4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Fireplace in Winter
Wood fires in a fireplace can be the best part of coming home in winter. Cozying up to the warmth of a crackling fire is a satisfying experience…until it’s not. Dissatisfaction with a fireplace seldom happens for no reason. Maybe trying to get a fire started at all is frustrating or the fires produce too much smoke. Read on for possible strategies to solve these issues and learn other ways you can get more out of your fireplace this winter.
Burn Seasoned Hardwood or Softwood
The only thing that should be burned in a wood-burning fireplace is seasoned wood. When wood is not seasoned, it contains too much moisture and makes for very smoky fires. After splitting wood for your fireplace, keep it in a proper woodpile or woodshed with access to plenty of sunshine and air for six months to a year or more. If you are unsure whether your firewood is seasoned, you can use an affordable moisture meter to find out; they are available at most hardware stores. In seasoned firewood, moisture content is below 20 percent.
All trees are either hardwoods or softwoods. If you burn seasoned softwood, fires will rapidly burn hot and then cool down quickly without leaving behind embers. Softwood is great for kindling and for fires in mild winter temperatures. Seasoned hardwood burns much longer than softwood and creates hot embers that extend the warmth even as the fire dies out.
Figure Out Why Fires Don’t Start Easily
Enjoying your fireplace may seem impossible if you can’t get fires started. There are various reasons this might happen, and you may want to call on help from a chimney expert to figure it out. One of the most common reasons for not being able to start a fire is because the chimney is filled with a cold column of air that won’t let the small amount of warm air from the beginnings of a fire push through. What is usually done to deal with this issue is to light a makeshift newspaper torch and hold it up toward the open damper. It may take a couple of times to displace the cold air. That may be all it takes to make you love your fireplace again.
Get a Fireplace Insert
If you like to do your part in protecting the environment, you may decide that you want a more efficient fireplace. Traditional masonry fireplaces lose more than 90% of their heat up the chimney. If you have a fireplace insert installed, you won’t waste so much heat anymore. In fact, once your fireplace has been measured and a specially built insert has been installed, the efficiency of your fireplace will increase to between 70% and 85% or more. An insert will provide enough heat for you to cut heating costs by shutting off central heating on occasion while staying toasty. A fireplace insert will also help your woodpile last about twice as long while providing far more heat.
Schedule Annual Chimney Inspections and Cleaning
Chimneys are susceptible to a wide range of problems, many of which can affect the operation and safety of your fireplace. Fire safety experts in the U.S. all agree that it is vitally important to schedule a chimney inspection every year. Issues often arise that put a home and family at risk but aren’t detected until a professional chimney sweep performs an inspection. Chimney cleaning is also needed regularly because wood fires leave flammable creosote behind in the flue. Without chimney cleaning, the creosote can become an obstruction in the chimney.
Contact the chimney experts at Chimney Solutions for help getting the most from your fireplace in winter. Call (770) 771-5501 today.