How to Improve Fireplace Efficiency
Fireplaces and wood stoves at one time were more than popular amenities; they were a home’s primary heat source 90% of the time in the early 1900s. With the invention of electricity and central air and heating, fireplaces dropped to being the primary heat source about 1% of the time, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Times have changed again and fireplaces and wood stoves are now so efficient, they are again viable sources of heat, as well as being very environmentally friendly. If it is important to you to make decisions that are earth-friendly, the good news is that you can enjoy all the pleasures of a crackling fireplace without polluting the air to a significant extent.
Burn Efficient Fuel
When your fire burns clean and hot, more heat than smoke is emitted. For logs to burn efficiently, they must be seasoned, which is to say that they must be low in moisture. It usually takes about six to nine months for moisture in the logs to adequately dissipate.
You can burn seasoned softwood or hardwood. For fires that are hotter and more long-lasting, burn hardwood. Softwood burns efficiently, too, though it is not as dense.
An efficient fire may have a small amount of smoke when it is first started and when it is going out. Burn a hot fire but not by putting too many logs on at once. Add the logs gradually as the heat builds. A hot fire is the most efficient kind; just don’t go overboard and create a huge fire.
Close the Dampers
Chimney dampers are important. A damper, which is a hinged metal plate located above the chimney’s throat, controls the flow of smoke and air through the fireplace and up the chimney. When the chimney isn’t being used, close the damper; it should create a nice seal that prevents outside air from getting inside and prevents inside air from escaping. If you have a chimney that is built on the outside of your home, you may choose to get a chimney cap damper, which closes at the top of the chimney. The top damper prevents the flue from becoming a column of cold air when the fireplace isn’t in use. By using both dampers, you reduce the cost of cooling and heating your home.
Get a Fireplace Insert Upgrade
Do you still use an open-hearth fireplace? If so, the heating efficiency you get from using the fireplace is 10% at most. If, on the other hand, you get a cast iron or heavy steel fireplace insert installed inside your masonry fireplace box, you can improve efficiency to as much as 80%. These efficient appliances typically have insulated glass doors that allow you to enjoy watching the fire. The closed firebox acts as a combustion chamber; the heat that becomes trapped inside the insert radiates into your home.
Contact a Professional Chimney Sweep
Creosote buildup in your chimney flue can obstruct your chimney and contribute to deterioration of the chimney liner. Contact one of our certified professionals to clean and inspect your chimney. Thousands of people every year who neglect chimney cleaning and maintenance end up with a chimney fire that spreads to the house, endangering lives and creating a huge expense.
Chimney Solutions, Inc. 1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004 Office 770-255-1300