Signs That Your Chimney Needs To Be Cleaned

When something like a car has issues, you typically know right away. When it’s something like your chimney, you may have difficulty noticing if there is a problem. It’s that time of year again where fireplaces will be in full force. Your chimney must be in perfect shape to keep you and your home safe. Here are some ways to tell if your chimney needs to be cleaned:

Buildup of Creosote

If you burn a fire and notice a weird smell, it could be creosote buildup in your chimney. This smell can still be noticeable even after you think you cleaned the fireplace, it’s something to do with the chimney. Creosote is a by-product of burning fires in your fireplace, and it should be cleaned every year – especially if you are an avid user of your fireplace. Moisture from the logs burning will travel up the chimney and stick to the walls. 

Animal Entry

Birds and other smaller animals get into chimneys more often than you think. This can happen when your chimney cap isn’t shut or when you don’t have one at all. Small animals can easily get in, but they have a tough time getting out. Chimneys are the perfect place for birds and animals to live and start families. If you sense a weird smell coming from your fireplace, you may need to have it cleaned out for animals. A lot of the time, you will even find dead animals in there. It’s sad, but it happens often.

Excess Smoke In Your Fireplace

If you have a lot of smoke when you burn a fire, that can be a sign to have your chimney cleaned. Excess smoke can signal that there is a blockage somewhere in the chimney. It can also mean the opening in the chimney is clogged by grime, soot, or creosote. Your chimney won’t be as effective unless you get it cleaned out.


If you have a lot of black material in your fireplace, that could be soot. Soot is what happens before creosote forms. Soot isn’t too hard to clean out of a fireplace, but you definitely should get it done before a long winter of use. 

Contact New England Hearth & Home

New England Hearth & Home is here to help you with all things fireplace! We can take care of your yearly cleaning and any other maintenance on your fireplace. Contact us to talk to one of our experts about anything you need to be done to your fireplace. Call us today or fill out our online request form to get in touch.

Preparing Your Fireplace For Fall

feet next to a fireplace

It’s about to be Fall in a month! Heaters across Massachusetts will be turned on for the season, and fireplaces will be full of spark and light. Along with the rest of your essential winter items, fireplaces should be prepped and ready for the season. Here are four easy steps to prepare your fireplace for Fall weather:

Remove Debris and Ash

The first step is to clean out any ash and any other debris out of the fireplace. Remove the log grate and completely clean it as well. It isn’t something you’re going to want to do, but it will help you to start the season with a beautiful, clean space.

Check The Firebrick

Search the fireplace for any cracked or loose firebrick and repair anything that needs it. To fix them, take the loose mortar out with a scoring tool and clean it with a vacuum or brush. After that, brush water into the brick joints.

Check The Chimney and Flue

Check your chimney and flue for any obstructions – leaves, sticks, etc, and remove them. Professionals recommend that you have a chimney inspected every year by a certified chimney sweep to figure out if there is a large amount of creosote buildup. If a layer of over 1/8 has built up, it should be removed to lessen the chance of a chimney fire. 

Get Rid Of Extra Moisture

Start a small fire to dry out and get rid of any extra moisture, which can make the firebrick become damaged or form creosote, along with other damages to the fireplace. If you think that your fireplace has a lot of moisture or if you are planning on using a brand new new fireplace, do these steps to help dry it out:

  • Get two logs and use only 1/3 of one log
  • Wait between 2-4 days and then use the remainder of that log
  • Wait between another 2-4 days and use the whole second log
  • Give it another few days, and the fireplace will be ready to use

After all of these steps, you’ll be all set to use your fireplace all fall and winter long. Make sure you use dry and seasoned wood (wood that should be cut and dried for about 6-12 months) to burn and to remember to clean out the ash regularly. You should clean it when the ash gets to the bottom of the fireplace grate.

Contact New England Hearth & Home

New England Hearth & Home can help you get ready for Fall. Whether you are looking to get a new fireplace installed, or need help getting your existing one ready for the season, we can be here for you! Give us a call at 781-562-0771 for more information.

Preparing Your Fireplace for the Spring

Fireplaces need to properly be taken care of when shutting them down for the warmer months. Whether you have a wood burning fireplace or gas, there are steps you need to take to keep yours last longer and staying in good condition!

Wood Burning Fireplace

Clean Up Any Ash

It is super essential to make sure you clean out remaining ash and soot that is in the fireplace. It keeps the air quality in good shape and keep the fireplace looking its best. Make sure to close the damper after you clean the ask out. By doing this, it stops air from getting into your house and stops any extra ask from blowing around from wind.

Closing the Damper

Most people do not need to use their fireplace after April or so, especially in Massachusetts. That being said, you don’t need the damper to stay open. Shutting the damper will help stop drafts, water leaking on rainy days and will keep away backyard animals. This can also save on energy costs by avoiding any air-conditioning from leaking out.

Scheduling a Chimney Cleaning or Fireplace Inspection 

A lot of people are unaware that the prime time to schedule a chimney cleaning is during the Spring. It is usually more convenient because there are fewer appointments for the professionals in the spring. Getting your chimney cleaned gets rid of a lot soot buildup that’s in the flue. When a professional comes to your home for the inspection, they’ll check the flue and chimney and to look for any leaks or cracks. They’ll also make sure that damper and chimney cap are all set.

Gas Fireplace

Clean the Glass Panel

If you have a fireplace with a glass panels, you should be cleaning it regularly. Remove the glass, then use a cleaner that is recommended for fireplace glass. For gas fireplace owners with glass doors, the same type of thing recommended. Use a cloth and use a cleaner that doesn’t have ammonia in it. 

Brush off Soot 

Brushing off soot with a clean and dry paintbrush is an easy way to get rid of any remaining. Get as much as you can out! 

Contact Us

Contact New England Hearth & Home about questions involving your fireplace. We are happy to provide you with answers on how to make your fireplace ready to go through the spring and summer seasons. Give us a call or fill out our contact form!

What to Do When You Haven’t Used Your Fireplace in a While

brick chimney

If you just moved into a new house or decide to try the fireplace that hasn’t been touched in years, it’s a good idea to have it inspected and cleaned. You may wonder, why? It’s because fireplaces and chimneys serve as a ventilation system for your home. Even furnaces rely on chimneys to circulate fresh air. It takes carbon monoxide and brings it through the chimney to outside. If you don’t get your chimney inspected every year to check for issues, your home’s ventilation may not be up to code.

Checking For Animals

Smaller outdoor animals like squirrels, birds, and raccoons love using chimneys as a form of shelter. They end up building nests in chimneys made out of leaves, dirt, twigs, and branches – which are all flammable materials. They also may leave behind droppings which can cause bad odor in your chimney and fireplace. Before starting up a fire, make sure your chimney is clear of animals and their homes.

Musty Smells

Musty smells coming from your fireplace can mean there is a moisture issue within your chimney. If you think something may have passed away in your chimney, you’re probably right. That happens often, especially when animals have made homes up there. Make sure to not start a fire in your fireplace until the animal has been removed. Burning it will not make the smell go away.

Fireplace That Has Never Been Used

Even if you have a fireplace that you know has never been used, the right way to go about starting your first fireplace fire is to have it inspected prior. Homeowners there before you, environmental wear and tear, and outdoor creatures are still factors that could have changed the way your fireplace will function. The freezing winter temperatures can also take a toll on your chimney and how it holds up.

What Happens During A Fireplace Inspection

A simple and common chimney inspection includes a chimney sweep looking for damage, obstructions, soot, and creosote buildup, using a flashlight. If it is in need of being swept, they’ll use brushes, a vacuum, and extension poles to do so. If you just bought the house, or experienced harsh weather conditions, the inspection will continue on the roof, in the attic, and crawl spaces. They can use video scanning and other tools to determine the damage of the chimney.

Contact Us

New England Hearth & Home wants to make sure you use your fireplace safely. Give us a call at 781-562-0071 or fill out our contact form. We look forward to taking care of your fireplace needs!

Frequently Asked Questions About Fireplaces:

How can I get rid of unpleasant odors coming from my fireplace?

Although a fireplace can add tranquility to your home, this can be interrupted by obnoxious fumes. Common practices to eliminate these odors include; spraying a fireplace deodorant, using charcoal to absorb the smell, placing an air purifier near the fireplace, and calling a professional for further inspection and potential repair.

What is the best way to start a fireplace?

When lighting a fireplace, there are two methods more widely used than others. The Log Cabin Method is performed by placing two rows of parallel logs on top of each other to form a simple log cabin-like structure. Layers can continue to be added, allowing for a bigger fire with more to feed on. The other option is the Top-Down Method. Instead of using rows of two parallel logs, this method involves organizing the wood by size, placing the larger pieces at the bottom of the pile. This approach is more commonly recommended and can be much more efficient than the Log Cabin method.

How does my gas fireplace get ventilation?

Fireplaces are able to release smoke and other toxins in exchange for fresh air by using a direct-vent system. This involves connecting your chimney to the air from outside, rather than the circulated air from indoors. As cool air rushes through a pipe that opens up to the outdoors, an inner chamber forces out toxins and exhaust.

Is it expensive to get my fireplace inspected?

As long as there aren’t unforeseen challenges or damage to your chimney, the average cost of an inspection is between $300-$600. Usually, the cost for cleaning services is included in this price as well. If there is anything that needs to be replaced or repaired, costs tend to add up quickly. By taking proper care of your fireplace, you can decrease the cost to maintain it and increase its longevity.

What is a safety pilot?

Most gas fireplaces contain a small flame, called the pilot light, that is constantly burning to allow for easy ignition. When this light flame starts to burn too hot or is blown out, the pilot valve will automatically close all the other valves in the system, stopping gas from entering.

Is it safe to shut off my fireplace pilot light during the summer?

Yes, it is safe to turn your fireplace’s pilot light off in the warmer months. By doing so, you can conserve energy usage and costs.

How do I know if my fireplace is ready to be used?

A fireplace is safe to use when it is able to ignite instantly, the presenting flame is blue in color, and all exhaust and fumes are able to be vented out properly.  It is almost a smart idea to thoroughly examine your fireplace for any damages, cracks, or hazards. You should never light your fireplace if you do not have a working and accessible fire extinguisher nearby.

Is it safe to hang a TV above my fireplace?

Although it can be aesthetically pleasing, mounting a TV on the wall above your fireplace can be very dangerous and is advised against. It is recommended that TVs are placed in an area that is 100 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler, or the risk for damage sharply increases.

Who can I call for to inspect my fireplace?

The only way to guarantee that your fireplace is safe to be lit is to call a professional for a full inspection. New England Hearth and Home is a team of experts who can help you with any questions or assistance you may need for your fireplace. Call us today at (781) 562-0771, or come to our store in Canton, MA.