Fireplace Myth #1. Rarely used chimneys don’t need to be cleaned or inspected.
If you don’t use your fireplace often, it doesn’t get dirty, right? While creosote buildup may not be a regular issue with infrequent use, annual chimney inspections are still vital to detect other problems. For example, chimney sweeps will check for and remove bird nests and check for dangerous cracks in the in chimney and flue. Infrequently used fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected once a year, and fireplaces used more than three times a week should be cleaned and inspected annually.
What’s the fuss about? Read about the dangers of chimney fires.
Fireplace Myth #2. Fireplaces are poor sources of heat.
An old line about fireplaces is that they’ll cook you on one side and freeze you on the other. The myth is that fireplaces may feel warm when you’re right next to them, but they don’t actually radiate any heat into your house. In fact, the heat you feel directly from the fireplace is only part of the equation. As the fire burns, it heats the brick in your chimney, which then will radiate warmth long after the fire has died down.
Click here for tips on getting more heat out of your fireplace.
Fireplace Myth #3. Burning softwoods like pine will cause heavy creosote buildup in your chimney.
Pine and other softwoods contain large amounts of sap, or resin. Long-standing wisdom has been that this resin, when burned, will cause large amounts of creosote to accumulate in your chimney. However, the University of Georgia is reporting this old wisdom to be false. They claim research has shown that creosote forms from burning low-temperature fires, not resin-rich woods. As long as the softwood is sufficiently seasoned, creosote should not be a concern. Keep in mind, however, that while pine burns very hot, it burns quickly and emits a lot of smoke.
Read about the best types of wood to burn in your fireplace.
Does your fireplace warm the cockles of your heart but leave your toes cold? With some modifications, your fireplace can become a legitimate heat source for your house and ensure your toes stay nice and toasty. Read on to learn how to get more heat from your fireplace.
- Install a fireback. A fireback is a piece of metal that sits behind the fire and reflects heat into the room. Firebacks have been used for centuries to increase the efficiency of fireplaces.
- Buy an EPA-approved fireplace insert. An insert is essentially a woodstove designed to slide into a normal fireplace. Those stoves use blowers to circulate heat into the room and their heavy metal construction radiates heat. Many models have glass fronts, so the fire is still visible, preserving some of the aesthetic benefits of an open fireplace. Inserts can be pricey, but they can put off a tremendous amount of heat.
Learning about and employing these three techniques will show you how to get more heat from your fireplace.
While burning seasoned firewood is important, the type of wood you burn will also affect the quality of your fire. What are the best types of firewood to burn in a fireplace? These are the best types of firewood because all
- light easily,
- produce a lot of heat,
- split easily, and
- emit minimal smoke.
9 Best Types of Firewood
- Red oak
- White oak
- Sugar maple (hard maple)
For more information on how well different types of wood burn, visit the Forest Products Laboratory website.
1. Burn Seasoned Firewood
Seasoned firewood has been allowed to dry after being cut and split, usually for about six months. Freshly cut firewood contains a huge amount of water, so instead of burning and putting off heat, your fire’s energy goes to boiling off all that water. In addition to not putting off much heat, unseasoned wood can cause creosote buildup in your chimney, which can lead to a chimney fire. Seasoned firewood burns hotter and with less smoke than unseasoned wood, so you have a more efficient fireplace.
-> How to tell if your firewood is seasoned
2. Use a Fireback
A fireback is a large piece of metal that sits behind your fire. Traditionally made of heavy cast iron, firebacks absorb heat from the fire and then radiate it into the room. Stainless steel firebacks give a modern flair to the traditional design. Not only do the stainless steel firebacks reflect heat into the room, but they also reflect the light from the fire.
Click here to browse a selection of cast iron and stainless steel firebacks.
3. Install a Top-Sealing Damper
While a top-sealing damper will not help your fireplace put off more heat, it will save tremendous amounts of energy and money whenever your fireplace is not in use. Old, iron throat dampers rust and warp, causing them to leak, allowing hot air up your chimney. Top-sealing dampers, like the Lyemance Damper, are made out of cast aluminum and use a high-temperature silicone to make an air-tight seal. A top-sealing damper can pay for itself in under a year through energy savings.
Click here to browse Premeier, Lock Top and Lyemance top-sealing Dampers with chimney caps.