Winter Tips: 5 Steps to Get the Most Out of Your Fireplace
It is the perfect time to warm up your home with a fireplace or wood burning stove. With Denver’s unseasonably warm weather, you can give your furnace a rest during the day and light up a fire at night when the temperatures drop. If your fireplace isn’t producing enough heat, we can help.
Our fireplace experts and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Burn Wise program agree that there are 5 best practices that you should follow to get the most out of your fireplace.
1. Stock & Store Firewood Properly
The way you cut and store wood impacts how well it will burn. Here are 3 simple guidelines for cutting and storing firewood properly:
#1 – Split wood into pieces that are no larger than 6 inches in diameter and just long enough to fit into your fireplace.
#2 – Stack wood off the ground with the split-side facing down. Leave enough space between each piece for air to circulate.
#3 – Protect wood from rain by covering it with a water-resistant tarp.
2. Only Burn Seasoned Wood
Firewood that isn’t dry enough can create more smoke than heat when it burns. That is why it is important to only burn seasoned wood. Firewood is considered seasoned when it has 20% or less moisture content. It takes between 6 to 12 months for wood to season.
You can usually tell if wood is properly seasoned by hitting two pieces against each other. Seasoned wood will make a hollow sound. If you don’t trust your ear, you can use a wood moister meter to determine if your firewood is seasoned.
3. Build a Good Fire
There is an art to building a good fire. If you want to build a long-lasting fire that produces a lot of heat with less fuel, follow these steps:
#1 – Open the damper to make sure there is plenty of air to feed the fire.
#2 – Stack dry kindling on the grate and start a small fire to heat the chimney.
#3 – Wait until the chimney or flue has heated up before adding large pieces of wood. (You will be able to tell when the flue is warm enough because smoke will begin moving straight up.)
#4 – Add larger pieces of wood keeping enough space between them for air to circulate.
#5 – Add firewood as needed to keep the fire bright and hot. Don’t let the fire burn down to embers before adding more wood.
Be sure to never burn treated lumber, cardboard, garbage, treated lumber or plastics. They can release harmful chemicals that can cause serious health issues.
4. Circulate the Heat
Have you noticed that your fireplace has trouble heating the whole room? If you have, the problem is that the heat isn’t circulating throughout the room. Instead it is rising towards the ceiling. You can help circulate the heat by turning on a nearby ceiling fan and running it at a low speed. Installing a heat exchange system that blows heat from the fireplace into the room can also help.
5. Invest in Maintenance and Upgrade If Needed
Having your home’s chimney cleaned and inspected once a year by a certified chimney sweep isn’t just a recommended safety precaution. Along with reducing the risk of a fire, removing creosote buildup and filling gaps or cracks in the masonry can improve your fireplace’s efficiency. Clean chimneys have better drafts that feed the fire with the oxygen it needs to burn bright and hot.
If you’ve followed these 5 steps and your fireplace still isn’t producing enough heat, you may want to upgrade to a fireplace insert or wood burning stove. EPA-certified wood stoves and fireplace inserts can produce up to 80% more heat than traditional masonry fireplaces.
Right now at Inglenook Energy Center, we are offering up to 50% off fireplace inserts and stoves on select floor models. Stop in to see for yourself and learn more about how a fireplace insert or stove could heat your home and reduce your energy costs!