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A crackling fire is a welcome sight when the temperature drops, but it's best to kindle one only in a well-maintained fireplace. Before you light up this year, consider having the chimney professionally cleaned to remove built-up creosote and ash from the interior walls and venting portion of the chimney. As well, check the exterior of the chimney for cracks, and make repairs to the masonry using the appropriate materials. If necessary, add or replace the chimney cap to keep out branches, debris, or unwanted visitors of the four-legged or winged varieties.
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