The only thing better than a fireplace in the winter is an efficient fireplace in the winter. By following these six tips for max fireplace efficiency and safety, you’ll make a big difference in how much you enjoy your fireplace during the cold months.
Tip 1: chimney health
This tip means to schedule chimney sweep service and fireplace/chimney inspection before the season kicks in. Chimney sweeps will remove flammable creosote and draft-hampering obstructions from your flue, while an inspection will uncover any part of your fireplace system that needs service.
Tip 2: Use dry firewood
Logs that haven’t had time to fully dry out (usually takes six months to a year after chopping) burn inefficiently and produce a lot more smoke than dry logs. Logs that are dry make hotter fires that burn longer and look spectacular.
2a: When storing your firewood outside, set the stack on a rack or pallet to keep it off the damp ground. Store wood in an area that is shielded from rain. If you prefer to use a tarp covering, make sure the ends are open so air can circulate.
2b: Remember that different types of wood have different burn qualities. For hotter, longer-lasting fires, go with hardwoods like maple, elm, oak and beech. When you want a shorter burn time, use softwoods like cedar, fir and red pine.
Tip 3: maximum performance
When stacking logs, make sure to leave some breathing room in between them. Some people say to start your fire from the top down; other say burn from the bottom up. Whichever way you go, a trick to getting really blazing fires is to start with a relatively small log stack and get it blazing well before adding more wood. Try this and see – and feel – the difference.
Tip 4: Keep the firebox clean
The more clutter of ashes and charred wood in your firebox, the less air that can get in to intensify your fires.
Shovel out debris regularly – and wash/scrape off any soot or creosote on the firebox walls to reduce the chance of fire.
Tip 5: Remember to close the damper after a fire
After your logs are finished burning, preserve the heat that’s in your home by shutting the fireplace damper. A house will retain a certain amount of fireplace-produced heat after the fire is over, but all that heat will go right up the chimney if the damper is left open.
Tip 6: Safety precautions
- Burn only wood in your fireplace – no household trash, plastics, cardboard, furnishings or any other material.
- Never use gasoline, lighter fluid or other accelerants to start a fire.
- Know the signs of a chimney fire: large amounts of dark smoke from either end of the chimney; a clicking/tapping noise; a rumbling sound like a distant train. Call 911 if you notice any of these signs, and put out the fire in the firebox, if safe to do so.
- Keep young children and pets away from the fireplace while it’s in use; purchase a fireplace screen, if necessary.
- Make sure you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors properly installed inside your home.
High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is here to help with CSIA-certified chimney sweep, chimney inspection and chimney and fireplace repairs. We’ll do the job right the first time to ensure safety for you and your family. Call us today at (301) 519-3500.
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