Even here in sunny, Northeast Florida we sometimes have to light up our fireplaces. Creosote, which is a flammable tar-like substance, builds up in your chimney and flue over time. This should be cleaned up by a professional, but there is some general cleaning that you can do in and around the firebox.
What Type of Wood to Burn
You should only burn seasoned hardwoods in your fireplace. Oak is the most popular to burn in our region. Pine and other softwoods are woods that you should avoid. They produce a lot of smoke which will lead to faster creosote buildup.
How to Clean Your Fireplace
Some places that you the homeowner should clean regularly include the firebox and the hearth. The firebox is where the actual fire is located. Wait at least 12 hours after your last fire before attempting to clean the firebox, just to be sure there are no hot embers while you are cleaning. You may shovel the ashes into a bucket or bag to dispose of them. Then gently scrub the walls of the firebox. Vacuum up all the light dust that remains. To clean your hearth just simply dust or vacuum to prevent any dust or soot buildup.
Enjoy the Warmth
Do these few simple things and you will be able to enjoy the warmth from your fireplace safely, on the few days we have that are cold enough to use it!