As Winter grips the northern states, it is important to make sure that your fireplace is up to the task of keeping your family warm and safe. Before using your fireplace, it is important to bring in professionals to have your fireplace inspected. It is the home owner’s responsibility to make sure that the fireplace is checked and inspected prior to use. Failure to have the fireplaces checked can have severe consequences.

Having the fireplace cleaned is the most common maintenance done every year. Soot can build up in the fireplace chimney. Birds and rodents may even build nests within the shelter of the dormant chimney. If the chimney is not cleaned, the results could be disastrous as all of these chimney contaminants could cause fires. Soot and other debris may burn hotter than the rest of the air in the chimney and create dangerous hot spots.

The integrity of the chimney also needs to be inspected. Chimneys can sustain damage that may allow smoke and burning embers into the confined attic spaces they are run through. This creates a very serious hazard that could be easily avoided by a simple inspection of the chimney. Some chimneys have retardant material inside and outside. Visual inspections may show damage that will need to be repaired.

The cap of the chimney should also be inspected to make sure that it is intact. The chimney cap blocks hot embers from escaping the chimney and potentially setting fires. Some caps have screening set around them to keep out animals that may try to get into the chimney. Animals can get into your home, or worse, become trapped within the chimney.

Imagine if the worst case scenario occurs, such as a fire breaking out and causes damage to your home. If your fireplace was found to be in disrepair, there is a chance that the insurance company will deny claims on the damage. This could lead to delays in getting repairs made that may lead to even further damage. It is the home owner’s responsibility to make sure that a fireplace is maintained, prior to use.