Angie’s List Report: Fireplace maintenance and safety for holidays

There’s just something about the glow of a fireplace this time of year. Here are tips to ensure 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. 

“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,” Angie Hicks, co-founder of Angie’s List.

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,” Angie said.  

Ashley Eldridge — Chimney Safety Institute of America — said, “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 cloths 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 they 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,” Eldridge said. “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. “

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

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