How to Properly Use Your Fireplace and Keep Your Home Warm
A fireplace makes a beautiful focal point in any home and provides a gathering place for families. The flames will help keep your home warm and add a cozy and inviting ambiance. However, safely enjoying a fire does require some regular maintenance and some basic knowledge about how fireplaces operate. With that in mind, we have put together some tips on how to properly use your woodburning fireplace and keep your home warm during the winter months.
Preparing Your Woodburning Fireplace for Use
Make Sure Your Fireplace is in Good Working Condition
Before you light your first fire of the season, you want to make sure that your woodburning fireplace and chimney are in proper working order. It isn’t uncommon for vents to become blocked or for water to seep into the chimney. Animals are known to build nests in vents, which can prevent smoke from escaping and send it back into the home. A cracked chimney liner can allow moisture and condensation to form and water can eat away that the structural integrity of your fireplace and prevent fires from becoming hot enough to warm the home. These problems can easily be identified and remedied with a visit from a professional inspector.
Don’t Forget to Open the Damper
Next, you will want to make sure that the fireplace damper is open. The damper should be closed when the fireplace is not in use so that heated air doesn’t escape through the chimney and reduce the energy efficiency of your home. It is all too easy to forget to open the damper once you are ready to start a fire and it won’t take long for you to realize your mistake as smoke starts to fill your home.
Best Way to Build a Fire
There are several schools of thought when it comes to building a fire and chances are that no two people in the same room with agree on this issue, but there are some clear advantages to the “upside down” method. This fire building technique places large logs on the bottom and build up with smaller sticks, kindling and paper. By lighting the fire at the top, you will create a cleaner fire that prevents smoke from having to travel up through cold logs.
Leave an Ash Bed
You might be tempted to continually clear out the fireplace ashes as you continue to burn fires throughout the seasons but leaving a 1-2” ash bed is actually a good idea. The ash acts as an insulator and allows fires to burn more hotly, which will also help to heat your home and require while require less wood.
Use a Screen to Block Hot Ashes
You will want to open the glass doors of the fireplace to allow air to reach the wood and feed the fire, but you also want to provide some sort of barrier that will prevent hot cinders from flying out into the home. A mesh screen is the perfect solution and can be used to add a decorative detail that enhances the look of your fireplace.
Consider Purchasing a Wood Burning Insert
If your fireplace isn’t just for aesthetics and you use it to help heat your home, you may want to consider looking into a woodburning fireplace insert. These products are basically wood stoves that are inserted into an existing fireplace opening. They can be used to burn wood and heat your home just like a traditional fireplace. The advantages of choosing a wood burning insert is that these stoves operate more efficiently and produce less pollution.
With a wood burning fireplace insert, you won’t have to spend as much time and money purchasing wood and tending the fire. This efficient alternative to traditional fireplaces offers an 80% efficiency rating and is capable of effectively heating up to 3,000 square feet of space. You will be able to give your HVAC system a break and enjoy a more cost-effective heating source. Better efficiency also means less smoke pollution.
Decorative fireplaces are also highly functional and offer you a way to efficiently heat your home. Just be sure to keep in mind that there is some maintenance involved whether you have a traditional fireplace or wood burning fireplace insert. With the right plan in place, you and your family can safely enjoy a fire that will warm up the winter evenings.
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