Make Sure Your Fireplace is Safe for the Holidays

12/7/18 3:34 PM Christina Wilson

It’s the season for entertaining friends and family with warmth and generosity. Nothing is better than a fire crackling in the fireplace to make everyone feel cozy. Do you know if your fireplace and chimney are safe? A homeowner inspection is easy to do and can save you time and money as well as worries about safety. It’s not too late to follow these steps:

1. Chimney Inspection

You should inspect both the inside and outside of your chimney. Here are the things to look for:


  • First look for and remove any debris such as animal nests, leaves, or branches and twigs.
  • Next,  look for signs of failing or missing mortar joints between the bricks. You may need to follow up by performing a probing test with a small knife. If the mortar is loose, crumbling, or falls out easily with digging, it is in need of repair or restoration. You will need to contact a professional masonry company for this service.


  • Look for animal nests – these can appear after periods when your fireplace is not used.
  • Look for the same signs of damage on the inside of your fireplace as you did outside.

If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, contract for a professional inspection. It will make your holidays more relaxing.

2. Flue Damper

A properly functioning flue damper operates in both an open and a closed position. Without fire the flue should be closed to both prevent heat from escaping your home and to save on heating bills. However, the open flue damper is what allows smoke to leave your home when you are burning logs. It should easily and completely open and close. If not, make arrangements to have it repaired.

3. A Clean Chimney

Creosote buildup in your chimney can be hazardous. It’s a highly flammable chemical that results when you burn wood. Over time it accumulates as a tar like substance inside your chimney. If you have a substantial buildup, it talks only a small spark to start a fire. The best remedy is to have a professional cleaning with specialized equipment and cleaning agents.

4. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Finally, check your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. They should be in working order with fully charged batteries. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and deadly, taking a few minutes for this inspection can easily be the difference between life and death.

As a homeowner, you should always take these steps to make sure that your fireplace is safe to use. You will enjoy your cozy holiday gatherings in front of the fireplace with family and friends.

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Renaissance Development, a leader in old brick restoration and historic preservation, is a specialist in Washington DC brick chimney repair. If your old brick chimney has loose and crumbling mortar, contact us.

Categories: Fireplace safety

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