Angie's List: Fireplace Safety

Published: Nov. 2, 2018 at 11:48 AM EDT
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There’s just something about the glow of a fireplace this time of year. This week’s Angie’s List Report offers tips to be sure your fireplace is ready for the coming winter months.

A fireplace can add warmth and coziness to any home. As temperatures cool, it’s important to address the maintenance of your fireplace and chimney to keep your house and family safe.

According to Angie Hicks, Co-Founder of Angie’s List, preparation is key. “Prepare for the winter season by familiarizing yourself with your chimney and fireplace system and make sure it’s in good working order before your first fire.”

Since most of us only know enough to get a fire started, turn to the experts for help.

“If you’re unfamiliar with how your fireplace works, have a certified chimney sweep inspect it. They can also give you tips on how to maintain and operate it,” stated Hicks.

Ashley Eldridge, of the Chimney Safety Institute of America, elaborates.

“A CSIA certified chimney sweep in particular will come in there and perform a Level 1 inspection, and determine if the chimney needs to be swept. Once they do, if it really does need to be swept, they will put down drop clothes and prepare to sweep the chimney. Most of the chimney sweeps today are actually using a rotary method, so they’re spinning a plastic bristle brush inside the fireplace and flue that does a very good job of scouring the interior of the chimney.”

According to the True Cost Guide, chimney sweeps average between $100-$300, depending on what is included. Some sweeps send a camera inside the chimney to inspect for damage, or might go on the roof, if that’s needed.

“If you’ve got a masonry fireplace like you see here, that should be inspected every year because there are things other than soot that might get in the chimney. You might have birds or squirrels or raccoons or leaves and branches—any number of other things that shouldn’t be in there, in addition to the soot,” advised Eldridge.

Certified sweeps can address those problems, answer questions and give expert advice on your specific system.

“When you call your certified chimney sweep out there to have a look at your fireplace, that should give you piece of mind so that you can use it without fear,” Eldridge assured.

Want more information on fireplace safety and maintenance?

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