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Sitting by the warmth of your fireplace with friends and family is one of the best ways to spend a winter evening, but if you haven’t used your fireplace in months, it may be in need of some maintenance. Here’s how to get your fireplace ready for those chilly evenings.

You should sweep your chimney or hire a chimney sweep to service your fireplace once a year before winter. Allowing creosote and debris to build up in your chimney over several years can cause dangerous house fires.

If you want to do it yourself, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • A dust mask
  • Sealed safety goggles
  • A sturdy ladder
  • Chimney brush

Step One: Protect Yourself

Chimney sweeping requires goggles with a tight seal around the eyes, and a high-quality dust mask. Wear protective gear at all times.

DeWalt Concealer Clear Anti-Fog Dual Mold Safety Goggle available from Amazon

GVS Half Mask Respirator available from Amazon

Step Two: Protect Your Floor and Furniture

Spread a plastic drop cloth on the floor around your fireplace. Then, remove any ash from the firebox and open the damper. To protect your furniture, seal the front of the fireplace with plastic sheeting. Be sure to cover all the edges with painter’s tape to prevent any ash from escaping.

TopSoon Clear Plastic Drop Cloth available from Amazon

Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape available from Amazon

Step Three: Sweep Away

Have a partner standing by for safety, and use a sturdy ladder to climb to the roof. Then, remove the chimney cap and use a chimney brush to work your way down the flue to the smoke shelf.

Little Giant Ladder Systems 26 Feet available from Amazon

Rutland Rectangular Chimney Sweep available from Amazon

Step Four: Allow the Dust to Settle

Before removing the plastic sheeting, allow the dust to settle into the fireplace. Then, peel back the sheeting and reach through the opening. Use the chimney brush to sweep up the chimney. Replace the plastic sheeting and allow the dust to settle again before cleaning up.

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