One thing you can use if you have a chimney for wood fireplace (as opposed to a gas-only fireplace) are some good chimney cleaning tips. Nobody likes to think about this dirty job, but it is the price we pay for that great-smelling, wood-burning fireplace we all love to snuggle up next to on those chilly winter evenings.
Besides providing a nice, clean route for Santa to get in and out of your home, keeping your chimney clean helps prevent the buildup up soot and make your fireplace burn much more efficiently (which means money saved for you!). In addition to that, when wood is burned in a fireplace, it creates creosote. Creosote builds up on the sides of your chimney walls and if not cleaned occasionally, can actually become combustible (catch on fire!). A chimney fire burns very hot, hotter than most fires, and damage can be extensive.
Birds and squirrels also have a tendency to build nests in chimneys when it is not in use, and if you have ever had a baby bird come plopping into your fireplace just as you have almost lit the fire, you know how close to wildlife tragedy that can be.
If enough creosote, soot, and other debris builds up in your chimney, carbon monoxide may build up and waft into your home instead of up and out through the chimney. Carbon monoxide not only causes headaches, dizziness, and nausea, it can also cause death.
Start by sealing off the fireplace to prevent soot and debris from blowing into your house. Take with you to the roof a flashlight, protective facemask (the good-quality respirator type), goggles, and gloves. You will also need a chimney brush and a flexible rod long enough to reach the height of your chimney.
With the flue open, attach the brush to the rod and sweep all sides of the chimney. Use the flashlight to periodically inspect the chimney and make sure you are doing the job adequately. When finished, use a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner (something like a Shop Vac) to clean out the fireplace from the inside of your home.
Chimneys need cleaning only once or twice a year, depending on how often it is used. If it is just too much for you to handle, professional chimney-sweep companies can do the job for you. A clean chimney ultimately means money in your pocket and good air in your home.