It's a good idea to have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually if you use the fireplace. Preparing for annual service can help things go more smoothly.

1. Allow for Cool Down

It's easier and safer for your chimney sweep to access and clean the firebox and chimney if the entire thing is cool to the touch. For this reason, hold off on having any fire in the firebox for the two or three days leading up to the chimney cleaning. Scheduling your cleaning in summer or early fall, when you aren't yet using the chimney, makes it more convenient to hold off on fireplace usage ahead of the service.

2. Clean the Firebox

There's no need to deep clean the firebox since that is part of the cleaning service. You do need to remove any partial logs you want to save, though, as well as any ashes you have earmarked for garden use or composting. Anything the chimney sweep removes will be disposed of. Lay a tarp or plastic sheeting over the hearth, and then pull the logs and ashes onto it. This way you can bundle them up for easy transport without tracking soot all over the house.

3. Clear the Hearth

Remove anything that sits on the hearth, such as log holders or fireplace tools, so that they aren't in the way of the chimney sweep as they work. It's also a good idea to clear the mantle, as you don't want any display items to suffer damage or get soot on them during the cleaning process. Photographs, pictures, and other items hanging over the fireplace should also be removed, as they can get knocked loose during cleaning or inspection.

4.  Arrange the Room

Your chimney sweep should be skilled at covering the room with sheeting to prevent soot, but it's a good idea to plan ahead and provide them with plenty of room to work. Pull back furniture and roll back any rugs so there is as much space as possible surrounding the fireplace. This will also cut down on the chances of soot getting into these furnishing items.

5. Clear the Landscaping

A chimney cleaning typically includes an inspection. Make sure the exterior of the chimney is easy to access and inspect by taking the time to trim back any grass, vines, or weeds that are growing near the chimney stack. This will also make it easier for any repairs that may be necessary.

Contact a chimney cleaning service if it's time to have your fireplace serviced.