Building cozy fires in your fireplace have helped ward off the chill during Indiana’s cold autumn and winter days, but if you’re like most people, your fireplace is about to enter a season of disuse.
In the Midwest, most homeowners don’t use their fireplaces over the summer months. And while it’s no problem for your fireplace to lie dormant for a season, there are some steps you should take to prepare your fireplace and chimney for the off-season ahead.
✔️ Step One: Clear It Out
Remove any remnants of wood from both your fireplace and any indoor storage spots where you stash your firewood. Leaving firewood sitting in your home can attract unwanted pests, so it’s better left outdoors during the summer. On that note, though, be sure any remaining firewood outdoors is stored properly to avoid dampness – and be sure to check that wood is neither too wet nor overly dry before using it again next season. Or better yet, enjoy a summer bonfire!
In addition to clearing wood from your firebox, ash and soot should be removed. You’ve likely let a couple inches of accumulated wood ash remain in your firebox throughout the season to insulate your fireplace, but now’s the time to clear it all out to prevent corrosion and odors. Be sure that ash is completely cooled, then scoop out as much ash as you can using your fireplace tools.
✔️ Step Two: Schedule Maintenance
All fireplaces, wood stoves, and furnace flues should be swept and inspected annually by a certified chimney sweep. A sweep technician will get on the roof and use special tools such as brushes, cameras, vacuums, and rods to get at the places you can’t see and remove any accumulations of soot and creosote.
Why is this important? These substances are combustible and become increasingly difficult to remove over time. They can also cause blockages, compromising airflow and ventilation, so keeping up with maintenance is important. Also, soot stuck in a chimney can take on an unpleasant odor when it meets damp spring and summer weather.
Having your chimney inspected as well as swept by your certified pro is critical. They will examine your chimney components for signs of damage or deterioration, so that potential problems can be addressed early – before they become more expensive and inconvenient to repair. It’s much better to have leaks or deterioration caught by a professional before you “discover” them yourself during a heavy rain. Unaddressed leaks can also allow structural wood rot or mold to grow unnoticed until the problem becomes severe.
✔️ Step Three: Get Repairs Booked
If your inspection uncovers any additional system maintenance needs, now is a good time to get repairs scheduled. If you’re proactive, your fireplace will be ready to use right away when the autumn chill sets in. Chimney sweeps tend to be booked up in the fall, so early is best – that way repairs can occur in the season during which you wouldn’t be using your fireplace anyway.
✔️ Step Four: Check Your Damper
If you have a wood-burning appliance, be sure to close your damper for the off season. This will guard against any critters that see your chimney as a good spot to nest finding their way in. Keeping your damper closed will also improve home efficiency by preventing your cool conditioned air from escaping your home.
If your fireplace is gas, the damper should be left open. This will help avoid gas building up in your home if you should happen to have a gas leak. Some homeowners with gas fireplaces or inserts extinguish the pilot light in the spring for energy efficiency – but be sure you know how to do this and get your pilot going again in the fall safely before taking this step.
✔️ Step Five: Enjoy Being Prepared & Ready
Once you get your fireplace, wood stove, or furnace flue ready for summer, you’re free to enjoy warmer temps and summer fun knowing you’ve done due diligence to this important home system. You’ve guarded against corrosion, taken steps to stay on top of any maintenance needs, and should have a system that’s ready to serve you immediately once the heating and burning season begins again.
Questions About Fireplace Maintenance? Reach Out
If you have questions about chimney care, now is a great time to talk to our qualified team of chimney technicians. We’re experts on chimney safety and offer a wide range of services from inspections and sweepings to chimney relining and masonry repairs. We’re also qualified to install inserts, gas logs, and more – so if you’re considering giving your fireplace a new look or energy upgrade this summer, give us a call!
We’re National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certified, experienced, and eager to please, as our high level of customer satisfaction will attest. Dial 317-643-1128 to speak with our team or reach out online now.