Q: We have family coming over for Thanksgiving and Christmas and thought a fire in the fireplace might be a great seasonal touch, but we haven’t used it in years. Is this safe?
A: You will need to check it out. You don’t want to build a big fire and then find a squirrel has a nest plugging your chimney. Open the flu, if you have one, and don’t be in the FP looking up when you do this. Let the crud fall, and then look up into the black chimney (during the day) and see if you can see light coming through your chimney cap. If you can, you are likely OK, but start with a small fire to make sure things are drafting properly. If you can’t see light you may still be OK, but I’d recommend calling a professional to confirm this.