Maintaining Your Fireplace
The first step to having a healthy, well-maintained fireplace is to burn the right fuel. Being choosy about what you burn improves heating efficiency and helps the environment, too.
Your fireplace is not an incinerator. Don't burn garbage, treated or painted wood, plastic, rubber, or any other non-recommended material. In addition to causing an unfavorable buildup on the interior of the firebox and chimney, these materials also produce noxious fumes which pollute the air (inside and outside of the home). Thus, being careful about what you burn is the first line of defense against a catastrophic house-leveling chimney fire.
Even if you're careful about what you burn, you still need to be concerned about creosote buildup.