Here are some good habits to get into while using your chimney:
Clean all ashes from inside the chimney.
Check the damper to see if you can fully open and close it. Check the lever. It may be covered with hardened ash, making it impossible to open or close completely. As a result, smoke may be leaking out.
Gather firewood and kindling. Create a dry space for it to “season” until winter.
Open the flue before starting a fire. Close it when not using your fireplace.
Build a structured woodpile on top of your grate by placing large logs on the bottom, laying smaller logs cross-wise on top, placing crushed newspapers on the pile, and layering kindling on top of the paper. Your fire will burn hot with little smoke.
Never burn pressure-treated, painted, or stained wood.
Examine your chimney for crumbling bricks or stones. It may need to be repaired.
Examine your firebox for cracks, gaps, and other signs of wear. If the steel box is showing, you will need to get it repaired.
Check your grate. See if it’s about 2/3rds the size of the firebox. If it’s too large, replace it. A large grate may tempt you to pile on too much firewood, causing dangerous overheating.
Make sure your fire extinguisher is within reach and is in good operating order. Accidents can happen.
Burning logs in a well-cleaned, well-maintained chimney with superb draft and flow is a true pleasure during the harsh winter.
Get your chimney in tip-top shape in the late summer. Call for an an inspection a Long Island chimney cleaning professional. Have them check your chimney cap, mortar joints, and lining.
It’s a good idea to do this each year at the same time.