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How to Make Your Fireplace More Efficient?August 5th, 2016 by
Since a fireplace is a seasonal item, it’s important to keep it clean and up to snuff even when it’s not in regular use. For whichever kind you have, use the following tips to ensure your fireplace is ready to go before the kids get busy with school and the holidays come around.
How Do You Make Your Fireplace More Efficient?
A wood-burning fireplace is an attractive addition to a home. If you only use it a few times a year, you aren’t worried about how efficiently it burns. But if you are using it to heat your home, you need to take the right steps to make your fireplace more efficient.
You should always use seasoned wood that has been aged at least six months. This dries out the wood so it burns better and produces much less smoke, soot, and creosote.
After each burn, clean out the bottom of your fireplace. Sweep out your chimney with a broom, and wear gloves and goggles to ensure you don’t get any ash or dust particles in your eyes.
When you plan to retire your fireplace for the season, have it professionally inspected and cleaned to remove soot and creosote that can build up inside the chimney or even cause a fire. Find a fireplace and chimney cleaning and repair company near you now.
Tips for Making Your Fireplace More Efficient
- Burn seasoned wood – Burning seasoned firewood is much more efficient. Since the wood is drier, it burns slower at higher temperatures and with less smoke. Fresh wood has a high moisture content that burns quickly without producing much heat.
- Reverse ceiling fans – Reversing the direction of your ceiling fans will create an updraft and help spread the heat from your fireplace. Look for the direction switch on the central housing of your fan.
- Open a window near the fireplace – It may seem counterintuitive, but opening a window will actually improve your fireplace efficiency. You only need a slight crack to draw in enough air to fuel the fire.
- Put in a fireback – A fireback is a heavy piece of cast iron or metal that absorbs and redistributes heat. Not only does it protect the masonry in your fireplace, but it also makes it more efficient.
- Install a fireplace insert – Instead of using a fireback, consider using an EPA-certified fireplace insert. It works basically the same but covers all sides to prevent heat loss and make your fireplace even more efficient.
- Add glass fireplace doors – Made of heavy thermal glass, these doors prevent the warm air in your room from going up and out of your chimney. The doors have vents that allow the air to circulate into your room and fuel the fire.
- Close the damper right away – Closing the fireplace damper as soon as the fire goes out will keep your home warm longer. This means you can burn less wood and get longer-lasting heat. However, ensure the fire is completely out or your room will get smokey.
- Clean it after every use – Cleaning might not seem that important, but too much ash and soot in the firebox can limit airflow and cause the wood to burn inefficiently.
How To Make Other Fireplaces More Efficient
Not having to pick out, cut, or store seasoned wood reduces the amount of work required to maintain a clean fireplace, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t schedule a fireplace inspection to make sure it’s burning efficiently and not releasing harmful gases, like carbon monoxide, into your house. Instead of soot and creosote, dust, dirt, or loose wires are more likely to be a gas fireplace issue. In addition to hiring a professional fireplace service, there are other tasks you can do yourself, like cleaning the glass doors and checking the gasket for damage.
Fireplace Alternatives: Wood Stoves and Pellet Stoves
A wood-burning stove requires similar maintenance to a wood-burning fireplace with regard to using only untreated seasoned wood, sweeping out ash, and requiring yearly inspections. However, new developments in technology make some wood-burning stoves more efficient than wood-burning fireplaces. Additionally, you can choose between catalytic and non-catalytic wood stoves depending on your heating needs.
A pellet stove is usually highly efficient—most EPA-certified ones carry efficiency ratings between 70 and 83 percent and, resulting in much lower electricity costs. It produces heat by burning pellets of wood and other natural, renewable materials. It still requires maintenance, annual inspection, and weekly cleaning, but you’ll be spending less money on electricity and materials to burn.
Choosing an efficient source to heat your home is beneficial to your wallet, your health, and the environment, but don’t just stop at choosing efficiency. Remember to have your fireplace inspected every year, no matter what kind you choose.