As a homeowner, you definitely enjoy the break from the cold winters. In our home, we heat with a boiler when necessary, but primarily with wood. Using a fireplace or woodstove comes with many responsibilities as well. We can tend to take for granted that when it gets cold, we can simply light a fire. There is a checklist of items that your local professional can do to make sure that you are safe and warm as winter approaches. As Fall arrives one of the first things that should be checked is your chimney. Over the Summer, birds or small animals may have decided that the top of the chimney was a comfortable place to make a home. Leaves and debris can collect in the screen as well. Chimneys need to be cleared of soot and creosote. You can contact a local Chimney Sweep to help with this task. Once all of these tasks have been accomplished, you can feel much safer when you light the first fire. It is also important to choose the right firewood. Burning hardwoods such as hickory or cherry will give you a more efficient burn as well as less build up in your chimney. If you experience long winter months such as in the Northeast Regions of the United States, buildup of soot can happen quickly if you are using the wrong type of wood. Softer woods such as pine will burn quickly, give off less heat, and create buildup twice as fast. Making the right choices and preparing your fireplace or wood stove properly make all the difference in your comfort for years to come.