My best friend and I have just moved into this lovely old home for rent in the summer, but for some reason we never bothered to look into the fireplace. The real estate agent said it might not be in the best of shape. However, from what we could see on the ground the chimney didn’t appear to be crumbling or physically damaged at all. It even still has the flue cover up top that is supposed to discourage critters from building a home in your home. However, the house has been vacant for at least six months, and we don’t know if they used it last. Finally, on our first chilly day, we decided to open the doors to see what we were dealing with. What we found behind the soot-covered glass was a pile of half-burnt trash! What on earth? The landlord has stipulated cleaning and and basic maintenance, including yard work, are on us. That includes the inground pool out back, and the beautiful central fireplace. We wanted to use the fireplace to offset the use of the oil furnace, but how could we tell if it was safe? In the end, our internet searching all said the same thing–call an HVAC contractor first. My bestie and I were glad we did–the chimney was covered in creosote and needed a thorough cleaning before it had any hope of being used. Fortunately, chimney cleaning is pretty straightforward and thus not super expensive. We are so happy to be able to build nice little wood fires in our living room fireplace at night. My bestie even bought stuff to make pumpkin spice smores!