If you have a wood stove or fireplace in your home, winter nights are probably synonymous with a warm, cozy fire. Like many home systems, your fireplace can bring comfort to your life – but there are simple ways to be sure that comfort is maximized and doesn’t become a headache.
To ensure your system is operating at its best, it’s helpful to follow some best practices. And if you need chimney or fireplace services, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Call 518-255-7273 or reach out online now.
How To Boost Fireplace Performance & Efficiency
- Book annual inspections. Schedule an annual chimney inspection by a professional chimney technician. This promotes safety and identifies issues that may hinder the integrity or use of your fireplace or wood stove system, both short term and long term. This also helps boost safe, efficient functionality and can prevent costly repairs.
- Use quality firewood. If you have a wood-burning appliance, it’s imperative that you fuel it well. All wood has a relatively high moisture content when freshly chopped. Seasoned firewood has been dried over time to reduce moisture, causing it to burn more efficiently and completely. As a result, you’ll have a fire that’s hotter, less smokey, and produces less nasty creosote buildup in your chimney.
- Schedule regular chimney sweeping services. Like annual inspections, this step saves you stress in the long run. Having your chimney swept removes combustible creosote and soot, and clears out debris or other obstructions to ventilation. The result? Reduced risk of chimney fires, proper venting of smoke and gases, more efficient heat production, and a chimney that simply functions better.
- Invest in fireplace doors. Not only do fireplace doors enhance safety by keeping in stray spray sparks and embers, they improve the absorption of heat and radiate it through the room.
- Utilize zone heating strategies. Use your fireplace or wood stove to supplement central heating by focusing warmth in rooms most frequently occupied, reducing the need for excessive heating throughout the house.
- Consider a fireplace insert. Having a fireplace insert installed boosts the efficiency of your system. How? These systems can improve heat output and minimize loss. They can also provide an excellent opportunity to convert to a different fuel source and allow greater control over the features of your fireplace, if desired.
- Be mindful of the freeze/thaw cycle. The freeze/thaw cycle refers to the ability of moisture to penetrate masonry. If water enters the masonry components in your chimney, it will expand when it freezes, aggravating the problem and causing chimney damage. In short, when it comes to chimneys, moisture is not your friend. Ask your chimney pro about ways to seal out moisture to prevent structural damage.
- Invest in preventive maintenance. How else can you keep moisture at bay? Avoid rapid temperature swings indoors, and check on the condition of your chimney cap. This small-but-mighty chimney component sits on top of your chimney and acts as a barrier, keeping rain, snow, animals,and debris out while still allowing proper ventilation.
Storing Firewood: Best Practices
Since well seasoned firewood is key to getting the most from your wood burning system, it’s important to store it well. To protect it from the snow and rain, cover the top of your firewood stack with a tarp or roof. Not all the elements are bad for firewood, though. Sun and air aid the drying process, so leave the sides of your stack open to air circulation.
Your firewood should also be elevated. Store it off the ground, on a raised platform or pallets. This will prevent the base of your pile absorbing moisture from the ground, which can cause deterioration.
Build Your Best Fire
Building a great fire takes a few considerations. First, maintaining a couple inches of wood ash in a wood-burning fireplace or wood stove insulates the firebox and can make starting your fire easier. Too much can smother your fire however, and ash should be cleaned out at the end of the burning season.
Many experts recommend an upside-down approach: Layer your largest logs parallel to each other, then add a crossing layer of the next largest. This criss-cross pattern will facilitate airflow. Repeat the process with your smallest logs, then put kindling on top. As your kindling burns, it’ll warm the flue, enhancing proper ventilation. It’ll also ignite the top layer of logs. As sparks and embers drop, the lower layers of firewood will gradually ignite, sustaining your blaze.
Are Wintertime Fireplace & Chimney Repairs Possible?
If you’ve noticed a concerning issue with your wood stove or fireplace – smoke indoors, strange odors, debris – contact a professional immediately. While winter may not be an optimal time for some repairs, your pro will be able to advise you on next steps. Additionally, you can set up your inspection for after the burning season, which will help you stay ahead of repairs in the future so that you can enjoy your wood burning system to the fullest year-round.
A fireplace or wood stove is a wonderful part of a home, especially in the winter months. Regular maintenance, good and well-utilized firewood, and smart usage are all key elements to maximizing your fireplace or wood stove’s performance – which means more comfortable winter evenings by the fire!
Questions? Need to schedule your appointment? We’re here for you – reach out today.