I grew up having fireplace at home, and then was lucky enough to have two in my first house I ever purchased here in Rochester. They're so nice to have and are a nice alternative to just blasting the heat from your furnace to keep warm, but a lot can go wrong when sparking up a fire during these cold, winter Minnesota months and it's very important to keep your place safe.

Not everyone, including myself has all the proper knowledge about fireplaces. So before old man winter officially takes over and the temperatures drop, here are some steps you can take to make sure your fireplace is safe:

  1. Check the damper: Make sure the damper is working properly and that there isn't a lot of debris up there or build up. The damper ledge should always be cleaned.
  2. Check for Creosote Buildup: According to familyhandyman.com Creosote is a chemical mass of carbon formed when wood, tar or fossil fuels are burned. If there is too much built up you shouldn't use the fireplace. Period.
  3. Clean out the ash. Not only is it better to keep the ash cleaned up so it doesn't have a chance to fly into the air in the home but it also is important cause ash can stay hot for 3 days and therefore can catch other flammable things on fire.
  4. Finally, the outside of the chimney should be checked for obstructions and wear. It's not a bad idea to trim back tree branches so leaves and other debris don't fall into the chimney causing more problems.

Those are just a few tips from the DIY Network. I suggest reading through the rest of them so that once you decide to spark that first fire of the year, if you haven't done so already, you're good to go.

Also see: There's Only One Place Left in Minnesota to See That Beautiful Fall Foliage