With the cold weather right around the corner, you’re probably ready to start those fires and relax with your family. However, there are a few tasks you need to add to your to-do list before you light the first match. You’ll want to start by calling a chimney sweep so that you can finish with a warm s’more curled up with a blanket (but everything in between is just as important as the first and last part of owning a fireplace). Here are a few ways that you can get your chimney ready for winter so that it’s safe and enjoyable.

Hire an Experienced Chimney Sweep

To have safe fires and a relaxing atmosphere, you’ll want to enlist the services of a professional chimney sweep once a year. The best time to do it is before the cold weather hits and you’ll want to use your fireplace over and over again. However, if you can’t remember the last time you had your chimney swept then you need to call immediately to have them come and take a look. To prevent an unnecessary house fire, this task needs to be at the top of your list and you shouldn’t light a single fire to test it out until you’ve had the pros come out.

Have Your Fireplace Inspected by the Professionals as Well

Beyond having your chimney swept once a year, you’ll want to have a professional chimney sweep come in and inspect the outside of your fireplace to ensure that you don’t have any cracks or damage to the structure. You’ll also want to make sure that you have the proper chimney cap or cover on so that you don’t have wildlife or rain and snow enter through the roof. These preventative measures will give your chimney longevity, as well as keep your homes value intact.

Have the Right Firewood

When you get ready to have a fire, you’ll want to be sure that you have the right firewood that doesn’t lead to build up in your fireplace like softwoods can. You’ll want dense wood, and be sure that you place it in a safe spot that is easy to access, but also away from any loose sparks that can start an unwanted fire. And be sure you stick with smaller fires that won’t damage the chimney by cracking it because it’s too hot and too high into the opening.

Have the Right Tools and Essentials On Hand

When you want to enhance your experience around the fire, be sure that you have right tools and essentials on hand. You’ll need brushes to properly clean up after each fire, as well as a screen that covers the embers from escaping onto your floor. Be sure that you keep rugs and other flammable things away from this area. And don’t forget all those other essentials like a fire extinguisher, and a stick to put a marshmallow on and mug of hot chocolate!