There is nothing better than cozying up to a glowing fireplace on a winter evening. However, whether you have a wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace, it works safest and best with proper maintenance and care. Before lighting a fire, consider the following:

Gas Fireplaces
A gas fireplace requires far less maintenance than a wood-burning one. Even so, it is better to have your gas fireplace inspected and adjusted by a professional every year. An inspector will check to ensure that all the parts are intact, the ignition is working well, ventilation pathways are clear and the heat output is correct. Whether it is a vented or ventless fireplace, it should never produce a gas odor. If it does, turn off the gas and have it inspected by a professional.

Wood-Burning Fireplaces
Hiring a professional chimney sweep at least once every five years (and more often if you use it frequently) is the best way to ensure your chimney is safe to use. Since flammable by-products from your wood-burning fireplace build up inside the chimney, it is important to have those cleaned to prevent a fire. A chimney sweep will also inspect your chimney to be sure that it is in good condition.

Wood Fires
When the time comes to make the first fire of the season, clean the firebox of any ashes and dust, check that your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order, and lastly, make sure that the screen fits and is in good condition to contain sparks and embers. Fires should always be built on a grate to protect the fireplace floor. Further, air flow under the grate also helps produce an efficient fire.

Seasoned hardwood is the best fuel for a wood fireplace. Green hardwood and pine logs have more sap than seasoned hardwood and therefore tend to build up creosote in the chimney more quickly.

After you have finished enjoying the warmth of your fireplace, it is important to put it out as you should never leave a fire unattended.