Looking forward to a holiday fire in your fireplace? If you aren't used to lighting fireplace units, take a moment to make sure you are prepared first!

  1. Check your damper
    In residential wood burning fireplaces, the damper slides shut over the chimney or flue to control airflow. Make sure your damper is opened and moves smoothly! You want it slightly open when you start a fire, open for a full fire, and closed with no fire.

  2. Clean out your hearth and chimney
    If there's any soot or ashes, clean them out! If you have a gas fireplace, make sure it's dust free. Also look for any cracks or damage in the hearth and patch if necessary. This is also true for your outside chimney, so think about (safely) climbing up and making sure there's no chimney damage.

  3. Look for signs of fire dangers
    Get out a flashlight, and look for any thick soot or creosote build-up in your flue. If it looks like your chimney has not been cleaned recently then it's to think about hiring a chimney sweep (yes, they exist!) before lighting fireplace units. Build-up is a common cause of chimney fires.

  4. Make sure your chimney top is protected
    Your chimney needs a cap on the top to prevent blasts of wind, snow seals, bird nests, and a whole mess of other problems. If your chimney doesn't have a cap, seriously consider installing one before you try lighting a fire.

  5. Protect your floor, too
    If you don't have much protection between your fireplace and the wood or carpet in front of it, think about buying a spark guard – a simple barrier that prevents sparks and embers from doing any damage. Sparks can fly surprisingly far out of a fireplace!

  6. Check your pilot light (gas fireplaces)
    If you have a gas fireplace, the pilot's light needs to be on. Usually the controls are located in the grate below the fireplace. There should be a knob or switch that you can push, then turn the pilot light on (like lighting a gas stove). Sometimes the directions aren't always accurate, so don't get too frustrated – call in an expert for a quick look if necessary! Meanwhile, make sure all the vents are clean.

For more info on safely heating with a fireplace, check with Ragsdale and ask us any questions you have!

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