Five Lessons for Heating Your Home with Wood
If you ask people who don’t like wood fireplaces and stoves why this is, often you hear answers like “too much hassle,” or “have trouble getting a good fire going.”
It’s true that wood-burning heating appliances require more time, overall, to operate than the gas variety and that building a good wood fire is more involved than turning on a gas valve. But this is no reason to give up on wood. Here are five lessons for heating your home with wood that will help.
- Choose the right wood. If you find that you’re spending too much time loading and re-loading the firebox, you may be using “soft” woods like spruce, pine, poplar and birch. These woods burn fast and don’t contain as much heat energy as “hard” woods such as sugar maple, oak, hickory and ash.
- Use only seasoned wood. “Seasoned” means dry. If you buy pre-cut firewood, buy only wood that is seasoned. If you cut the wood yourself, give it time to sit in a dry space before using. Dry wood is lighter, has flakier bark, lacks that “fresh-cut” smell and makes a hollow sound when two logs are knocked together.
- Start a fire the right way. While there are many variables in the fire-starting process, there is a basic rule that always applies. For fire to happen, three things are required: Fuel (wood, in this case), heat and oxygen. Assuming you have seasoned wood, the main culprit in fire-starting problems usually is oxygen. When arranging logs and kindling, it’s important to not pack the stuff in there. A loose stack will allow for sufficient air (oxygen) to mix with the fuel and heat and get the logs blazing.
- Proper draft. Modern wood-burning stoves and fireplaces are designed to provide enough draft necessary to get a fire started and keep it burning. Remember that draft = oxygen, or air running through the burning fuel. If your chimney is blocked with obstructions or years of smoke residue, drafting will be insufficient. Likewise, if your house is completely closed up and particularly air-tight, it will be difficult to bring enough air into the fire.
- System maintenance. No wood stove or fireplace will run forever without the need for some upkeep. Cleaning of the vent system or chimney, inspection of the damper, chimney liner, vent pipes, crown and cap along with the occasional repair or replacement of components is a normal part of running a wood-burning appliance. It pays to have this work done by a professional rather than trying to do it yourself.
A wood fireplace or stove will never be overall as simple to operate as a gas unit, but many folks firmly believe that there’s no other kind of appliance that will offer the beauty, aroma and ambience of a traditional wood fire. If wood is your choice for home heating, Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, Ga., is here to help.
We provide a full schedule of cleaning, inspection, maintenance and repair of wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. Our certified technicians will make sure your system runs correctly and safely so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the fire. Call (770) 255-1300 for an appointment or with questions.