Is Your Money Going Up the Chimney? How to Make Your Fireplace More Efficient
Not all fireplaces are created equal, and not all uses of a fireplace produce the same results. To get the most out of your fireplace, it’s important to first determine if it’s supposed to be a nice household accent, an appliance that produces primarily visual appeal, or if it’s going to function as a supplemental heating system.
If you like a gas fireplace
It’s hard to beat a crackling fire blazing in a wood fireplace on a winter evening. But if the heat produced by the fireplace is the whole point, converting with a gas insert is a good way to keep money from going up the chimney and make your fireplace more efficient.
Gas fireplaces and fireplace inserts allow less air to be lost outside of the house and are made to operate more simply and cleanly than wood fireplaces. They also generate significantly greater levels of radiant heat. It’s a lot easier than you might think to have an efficient gas fireplace insert installed in your current masonry fireplace. If this sounds like a good option for you, talk with a chimney and fireplace professional and get the details.
If you prefer a wood fireplace
While wood fireplaces aren’t generally as efficient as gas models, there are things you can do to make improvements. A properly burning fire will create more heat and burn logs more thoroughly than a fire that struggles through tightly packed and/or unseasoned (wet) logs.
When preparing to build a fire, start with some dry clumps of wood shavings or twigs to serve as tinder. Then use a metal log grate, on which dry logs should be stacked with plenty of open space in between. This arrangement will allow for the most efficient – and hottest – burn with considerably less smoke.
Doors and dampers
If your fireplace is equipped with glass doors, use them to decrease the draft flowing into the fireplace. If there is a damper, keep it closed any time you’re not using the fireplace. Inflatable blockers known as “chimney balloons” can be purchased to fit above the damper and form a very secure air seal during longer periods when the fireplace isn’t in use.
Cleaning and maintenance
Wood fireplaces definitely need a professional cleaning and inspection on an annual basis to make sure the unit functions at an optimal level. Often a certified technician will find things that are causing lowered efficiency and can get them repaired quickly. Regular service also is important to allow your fireplace to run safely, because chimney fires are one of the most common types of fires in the home.
Gas fireplaces or inserts don’t require as much maintenance as wood fireplaces, but they still need to be checked regularly by someone trained in fireplace service.
If you haven’t had a fireplace and chimney inspection within the last year, give Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, Ga., a call and find out what we can do to help your gas or wood fireplace operate at peak efficiency this winter. You can schedule an appointment or get your questions answered at (770) 771-5501.