The last week of September into the first week of October is National Chimney Safety Week. Homeowners usually start thinking about getting ready for the upcoming winter. One of the things on the maintenance list should be having your chimneys inspected and cleaned if needed. This photo is looking down a 13 x 13 flue liner. This one looks pretty clean from the top. While up there, a chimney sweep will check the cap, flashing, and condition of the brick, stone, etc and might add a rain guard/spark arrestor. Some people just use a wire mesh cap. Then from down in the fireplace, usually the rest of the flues can be inspected, as well as the damper, air intake, ash dump, clean out, firebrick, hearth, mortar joints, etc. It's a good idea to have your chimney inspected every year. Even if you didn't burn a lot of wood the year before, other things can happen like lightning strikes, and in some areas even mild earthquakes can crack chimneys and flu liners.
Once your chimney is deemed safe to use, it would be a good idea to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
If you're going to order firewood, mixed hardwoods are best. The wood should be seasoned at least 6 to 12 months. It's ok to burn some softer woods like pine, but make sure it's seasoned and dry. Cords are currently selling in the $170.00 to $200.00 range around here, so shop around. Once delivered, keep it covered until your ready to burn it. A full cord measures 128 cubic feet stacked. That's 4' wide, 4' high, 8' long.
This is also a good time to check your dryer vent. Most people clean the filter after every use, but if someone doesn't, or forgets, lint can sometimes travel into the exhaust pipe, and block off the vent at the outside. If you don't have the tools on hand to remove the exhaust pipes and remove the lint, ask your chimney sweep. Many sweeps are Certified Dryer Exhaust Technicians, and they have the training and tools to do it for you.
It's a small price to pay to maintain your chimneys to be fire safe.
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