Fall has officially begun and while it might be too soon to turn your heat on full blast the thought of starting a small fire in the fireplace may have crossed you mind. Before you build a fire to take the chill out of the air take note that heating fires are the second leading cause of house fires in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. This being said it is important to properly prepare your fireplace before you start using it during the upcoming cooler months. Here are some tips on cleaning and care for you chimney and fireplace ensuring your warmth and safety.
Clean it
Cleaning your chimney is the first step to ensure the safety of your home and family. Hiring a chimney sweep is highly recommended, it is considered proper care to have your chimney swept at least once a year. In wood burning fireplaces creosote, or unburned fuel, is often the cause of unwanted fires as it builds up in the chimney. The blower of your wood and gas burning fireplaces lack a filter which causes a buildup of hair and dust. Therefore cleaning your blower along with the main chimney is imperative.
Repair damage
Check your brick and brick lining for damage. You want to make sure there are no missing or loose brick along with no cracks or serious damage to the lining. If the steel body of the chimney is exposed then heat from the fire will cause serious and permanent damage.
Use a chimney cap
If you do not already have one make sure to buy and install a chimney cap as it helps keep out  animals, leaves, water, debris, and other unwanted guests.
Build your fire properly 
When purchasing wood for your fire make sure it is dense (oak is preferred), dry, and not green! Also be careful to not put too many logs in the fireplace at once and use kindling to start the fire rather than gasoline or lighter fluid. A fire that is too large or hot can cause cracks and other serious damage to the structure.
Replace batteries 
If you have a gas-burning fireplace make sure that you replace the batteries to any remote or receiver, even when not in use battery can be drained. Be sure to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors too.
Some last minute notes to keep in mind are to always use fireplace tools instead of your bare hands and never leave a fire unattended. We hope you stay warm and cozy in these upcoming months and that your fire extinguisher remains a spectator.