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!


Safety Tips for Your Fireplace or Wood Stove

logs burning in a fireplace

For the safety of you and your home, you should have your fireplace and chimney inspected once a year for any issues. You should also have your chimney swept as necessary. Between those inspections and cleanings, there are other things you can do to keep it looking and working its best.

All Fireplaces and Chimneys

There are safety precautions to take when it comes to having a fireplace and chimney in your home. Never leave a fire unattended. If by any chance it does start to spread outside of the fireplace, you could end up with your home burning as well. Always keep a fire extinguisher handy in your house just in case!

Keep the Area Clear

Keep the area around the fireplace clear of papers or other debris. This can attract sparks out of the fireplace and to places they don’t need to be. This also goes for decorations above and around the fireplace. Around the holidays, it’s tempting to hang garland and other flammable items around the area of the fireplace, and place plants and such in front of it as well. Just be cautious of what is around it and make sure it is far enough away that it won’t cause the fire to spread.

If your fireplace doesn’t have a glass door, use a mesh wire screen to help keep the sparks contained. Try not to ever have your fireplace or stove completely open with no barrier. You’ll still feel just as much heat from the fire if you have a screen, than if you left it open with nothing protecting it.

Building a Fire

Before building your fire, make sure the damper is open. That lets smoke release out of the chimney. When placing logs in the fireplace, put enough to make a fire that is the correct size for your fireplace. Burning too much wood can make too hot of a fire and damage your fireplace, or start to spill out of the fireplace.

What Not to Burn

Try to use seasoned wood that has been aged for about 6 months, to a year. Also, never burn wet, rotted, moldy, or diseased wood. This can give off gases that are harmful to you. Other items can release chemicals as well – such as wrapping paper, magazines, trash, boxes, and green wood (such as Christmas trees).

Masonry or Prefabricated Wood Burning Fireplaces

Masonry and prefabricated wood fireplaces can he different safety precautions. For masonry ones, remove ashes with a metal shovel and make sure to keep the ash in a metal container until it has cooled off. You can then use it as a fertilizer if you want! For prefabricated fireplaces, always read the manufacturer’s directions before starting your fire.

Having a fireplace can bring warmth and style to your home. Make sure you keep your house safe, as well as you and your family, while still enjoying everything a fireplace has to offer!

Contact Us

New England Hearth & Home can assist you with all of your fireplace needs! Contact us today at 781-562-0771 or fill out our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!