Winter is approaching and soon it will be time to curl up with loved ones by the fire with a cup of cocoa on those cold winter nights. In anticipation of the cooler weather, now would be a good time to contact your chimney sweep contractor. Here are a few tips for maintaining your masonry/wood-burning fireplace or wood stove to add to your Honey-Do List of House Maintenance.

Chimney sweep - call your fireplace and chimney contractor or inspector NOW as chimney sweeps get booked early! Chimney sweeps should be done at least once a year prior to wintertime. The Chimney Safety Institute of America lists over 1,700 chimney sweeps that carry the Certified Chimney Sweep credential

Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors - replace batteries and test them.

Stock up on firewood - burn hard wood instead of soft wood as it efficiently delivers more heat. Ash, maple and oak are dense hard woods which are optimal to burn instead of the lighter soft woods like cedar, pine and poplar. Burn only seasoned dry wood; "green"wood doesn't burn as well and causes soot and creosote. Seasoned wood is wood that has been cut and dried under cover for at least 6 months.

Keep combustibles 12" away - carpets, drapes, and furniture should be at least 12" away from your fireplace when it is lit. A fireplace screen will help keep children and pets safe.

Clean out the ash - whenever it reaches the bottom of the grate to create efficient airflow. Wear a dust mask and gloves for safety.

Test out the function of your fireplace - open the damper and light a small piece of dry seasoned wood, making sure the smoke goes directly up the chimney. If smoke enters the room, then correct any problems. 

If you need some resources for locating your Honey Do Specialists when you're own Honey-Wont-Do, Contact me 


Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel HillDurhamCarrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website at for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Masha is a certified member of The Luxury Home Marketing Institute, participates in its annual Leaders in Luxury Conference, and works with The Institute’s thousands of members worldwide to share information about current listings.

Masha is also a certified member of Keller Williams Luxury International and is Chapel Hill & Durham's EXCLUSIVE member of Cyber Stars International – Top Realtors Using Technology – a group dedicated to taking the best and latest technological advances and applying them to real estate advertising and marketing for her clients in all price pointsMasha Halpern can be contacted for a private consultation by calling 919-414-0337 or by visiting