Get Your Fireplace Running Efficiently This Winter
When a fireplace runs efficiently every winter, it doesn’t happen by accident. A set of conditions work in harmony to ensure that fires burn hot and combustion byproducts exit through the chimney. All fireplaces and chimney systems need maintenance to keep those ideal conditions in place. The following tips can help to ensure that your fireplace runs efficiently this winter.
A smoky fireplace is a common problem homeowners experience, and the problem has to do with disruption of the draft, or airflow. The draft is a force that pulls air from inside your fireplace or home up through the chimney. A temperature differential is what creates a draft. Sometimes draft can’t happen because the chimney is filled with a column of cold air. This happens a lot in very chilly weather in homes where the fireplace is built on an outside wall. The way to restore the draft is to hold a lit newspaper torch up toward the open damper. It may take a time or two for the torch to dispel the cold air and allow for a draft.
Another reason smoke may billow into the home instead of going up the chimney is because of an obstruction. The most common blockage in a chimney is caused by excess creosote. With every wood fire, highly flammable creosote is deposited in the chimney lining. The chimney needs to be cleaned at least annually, according to experts, to prevent layers of creosote from preventing proper draft and putting the home at an increased risk of a dangerous chimney fire.
Other issues can affect draft, as well, including a short chimney and a home that’s too airtight to allow air to flow as needed. Consult with chimney sweep professionals if you need help fixing a smoky chimney.
2) Burn the Right Firewood
It’s impossible to have an efficient fireplace if you burn green wood. Fresh-cut firewood is packed with moisture, and burning it creates excessive smoke and leaves behind excess creosote in the flue. Firewood should be seasoned before burning it. To season firewood, let it dry out for 6 to 12 months. Wood piles should allow for airflow between pieces of wood. Sun should be able to get to the wood, though it also needs protection from the rain.
If you want long-lasting fires that create hot coals, burn hardwood. If you want fires that don’t leave coals behind and will stop putting out heat more quickly after the fire is out, burn softwood.
3) Remove Ash Routinely
It’s good to have about an inch of ash on the floor of the fireplace because it acts as an insulator to give off more heat. Once ash gets deeper than an inch, it can interfere with a fire’s efficiency. Using all recommended safety procedures, remove ash as needed.
4) Install a Fireplace Insert
When you say you want an “efficient fireplace,” do you mean you want your fireplace to provide a significant amount of heat in your home, to help lower utility costs in winter? If so, the best thing to do is to have a fireplace insert installed. An insert will transform your traditional fireplace into a truly efficient supplemental heat source. The heating efficiency of your fireplace will go from a paltry 10% to as much as 80%!
5) Contact Certified Chimney Sweeps
To keep a fireplace and chimney operating at optimum levels, routine chimney cleaning and chimney inspections are needed. Chimneys are highly vulnerable to moisture damage, and they often need repair. You can lower the cost of chimney maintenance by scheduling annual inspections and cleaning and getting chimney repair, as needed. To learn more, contact our CSIA-certified chimney experts at Northeastern Chimney, LLC. Call us at 860-233-5770 anytime between 8 am and 5 pm on weekdays. We are located in West Hartford, Connecticut, and serve the entire surrounding area, as well.