If it's Fall, that means you're ready to fire up the fireplace again. As the days start getting colder, nothing is cozier than a warm fire blazing away. There's lots to do in order to get your fireplace ready for another season. However, all of it can be boiled down to one simple step:
1. Have a professional chimney cleaning service clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney.
Really. That's it. There's a lot involved in cleaning and maintaining your fireplace and chimney. Certified professionals know how to do it all. They can inspect everything that needs to be inspected, clean everything that needs to be cleaned, and make recommendations on anything that might need to be replaced. They're trained to notice potential problems and they're good at fixing them.
If you're not sure how to select a chimney sweep, ask one of your neighbors for a recommendation. Whatever you do, don't put it off on the theory that you're going to do the work yourself ... someday. You put yourself and your family at risk of chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning to name the most dangerous possibilities. You also risk small explosions from delayed ignition of the burner, odor from gas leaks, system failure caused by overheating or blockage, and a permanent haze on the glass doors.
Here's what a professional chimney sweep should attend to.
- Sweep entire inside of chimney, making sure it is free of all creosote and soot
- Clean the firebox, including gas logs, grates, and paint liners
- Clean the valve compartment and heat exchanger
- Clean the glass, inside and out
- Check pilot assembly to make sure it lights properly
- Check pilot generator to make sure it's at proper strength
- Inspect test valve terminals for operation of pilot valve
- Inspect and test connections that turn on burner
- Check to make sure the vent drafts properly
- Check the flame to make sure it burns properlyt
- Check for broken or worn out wire connectors
- Check the outside vent cap for mis-positioning or obstruction
- Check glass gaskets to make sure they seal properly
If you still feel like tackling the job yourself, you can use the above as a checklist. More likely, you'll see the wisdom in retaining a professional. Make a standing yearly appointment and have this done during spring or summer to avoid the rush.