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How to close up a fireplace for the season

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A roaring fireplace on a chilly day provides a welcome, aesthetically appealing respite from the cold.
Fireplaces are typically used throughout winter, but when spring rolls around, many homeowners no longer feel the need to light a fire. As fireplace season winds down, homeowners can take the following steps to close their fireplaces for the warm weather seasons ahead.
Begin the cleanup
Repeatedly lighting fires results in an accumulation of ash and residual wood debris. Clean out what you can by hand and discard the soot. To conduct a more thorough cleaning, use a high-powered garage vacuum to clear out any remaining ashes from crevices and other parts of the firebox.
Hire a chimney sweep
A fully functioning fireplace chimney should be swept annually by a certified chimney sweep. He or she will remove soot and any creosote from the inside of the chimney. Creosote is highly flammable and can cause considerable damage if it catches fire.
A professional chimney sweeping also reduces the amount of dirt and odor that will continue to enter a home after the fireplace has been retired for the season. Damp spring weather can moisten soot trapped in a chimney, causing it to smell. Cleaning and deodorizing can help keep rooms fresh.
Ask for an inspection
Ask a chimney sweep to inspect your chimney in addition to cleaning it. A sweep can look for leaks and cracks, and he or she should also look at the flashing system and rain cap, which can prevent water infiltration. You don't want to learn your chimney is in poor shape during a heavy spring rainfall. Ask that the pipes, brickwork and damper also be checked for functionality and good repair.
Close the damper
Homeowners should close the dampers on wood-burning fireplaces when closing their fireplaces for the season. Doing so prevents animals from making nests inside the chimney and possibly gaining entry into your home. Closing the damper also makes the home more efficient by not letting air escape through the chimney.
Those with gas fireplaces should leave the damper open at all times to prevent a gas buildup in the home in the case of a gas leak. However, homeowners may want to extinguish the pilot light for a gas fireplace in the spring to reduce energy usage.
Make it attractive
Some homeowners choose to dress up a fireplace to make it look more appealing in the offseason. Flowers, plants, candles, or decorative accents can be placed in the firebox to add style to a home.
When closing a fireplace for the season, homeowners can benefit from hiring a professional to ensure everything is done correctly and the fireplace will be in top shape and ready to warm everyone up next winter.