I had a customer call me once the morning after we set up his wood-burning fireplace. He was very upset.
The fireplace’s glass doors exploded, burning his carpet and frightening his kids.
I asked him how he’d used the fireplace doors since fireplaces don’t just spontaneously explode.
He told me he’d loaded it up with ten logs, closed it off, and went to bed.
He thought he could use his wood-burning fireplace as a heater. Instead, he’d effectively made a ticking time bomb.
After giving him a free rug to protect his hearth, I walked him through how to use his wood-burning fireplace properly and safely.
When used right, wood fireplaces are a safe, cozy addition to any home. With the proper additions, they can also work as a heater.
Here’s how to use a wood-burning fireplace.
Make Sure Your Damper is Open
This is the most important rule.
The damper is what connects your wood-burning fireplace to the chimney. If you burn a fire in there with the damper closed, it will fill your house with smoke.
Look for a hook or handle at the top of the fireplace box, and make sure that the damper is open by looking up through the fireplace.
If you have a metal fireplace, you might have an outside air kit. This is for smaller chimneys to get a little extra outside air. Make sure it’s open when you burn a fire.
Build the fire with a mixture of kindling and larger logs.
Design it like a teepee, open and sloping up towards the BACK of the fireplace. You don’t want that blazing tower of wood to collapse forward into your living room.
You’re trying to create a current of air to draw air through the fire and send smoke up the chimney.
Newspaper is a common starter, but the best material is called Fatwood. These are small strips of wood saturated with sap that immediately catch and can have a fire going in seconds.
Our customers swear by this stuff!
To learn more, check out our website at https://forshaws-rebuild.local/product/fatwood-8-lb-burlap-bag/.
Still No Smoke
If the damper is open but smoke fills the house, you probably have a pressure problem.
Newer houses are often built to be air-tight and efficient.
A wood fire can pull air from these houses faster than it’s replaced. This creates a pressure issue that causes the smoke to linger rather than venting as it should.
You may need to crack a window or open a door to equalize the pressure. If you’re having problems like this, call a fireplace professional and tell them that you have a negative pressure problem.
They may be able to solve the problem by installing an outside air kit, lengthening the chimney, or adding a powerventing motor on top of the fireplace.
Extinguish When Finished
When you’re done with the fire, knock the logs down and make sure it’s not blazing before you close the doors.
Leave the damper open.
If you plan to remove the ashes, wait at least a day or two.
Those embers may still be smoldering. Don’t place them in a bag on your deck or you could come back to find you have no bag and no deck.
If you have to clean out your fireplace the next morning, place the embers in a metal box, and store that on a slab of concrete outside.
How to Use a Wood-Burning Fireplace as a Heater
Not all wood-burning fireplaces are designed to heat your house. In fact, most wood-burning fireplaces draw warm air out of the room and send it up the chimney.
The glass doors on such fireplaces are decorative and designed to shut off airflow after you extinguish the blaze. If you close the doors when the fire is blazing, you superheat that glass and risk an explosion.
You can retrofit an existing wood-burning fireplace with a heat exchanger so it operates more efficiently and warms the room. Or you install a new wood-burning fireplace designed to be a heater.
Contact one of our fireplace experts to discuss those options.
How Not to Use a Wood-Burning Fireplace
Here are some common mistakes we’ve seen over the years.
- Don’t use a gas starter. In some areas this is legal, but it is dangerous. This is how houses explode.
- Don’t throw out burning embers.
- Don’t stack the wood on the floor of the fireplace. Use a grate to stack your wood. Plenty of grates to choose from on our site.
- Don’t close the glass doors while the fire is burning high.
Maintain Your Fireplace
Wood burning fireplaces are fun additions to a home, but they take care and proper use.
At Forshaw, we’re experts in installation, usage, and maintenance. We have the best fire starters and all the equipment and expertise needed to create a pleasurable experience.
If you’re looking to have a wood-burning fireplace that works as an affordable heating system or as decoration, reach out to us at https://forshaws-rebuild.local/contact-us/ and we’ll figure out the best option for you.Previous