As a retired fireman, you can rightly assume that I care a lot about fire safety. And if that wasn’t obvious enough, all you have to do is look at the name of my company. But even though safety is always an important part of how and why I do what I do, there are other things I care about, too. We all like to save money, and one of the best ways to do this is by getting the maximum performance out of our appliances. I’d like to toss you a few tips on how to turn your fireplace into an efficient and top-performing appliance.
Watch what you buy. I’m not the only one who will tell you that wood is key. You want to pay close attention when you’re purchasing firewood to make sure that it has been seasoned at least 6 months and that it’s been stored properly so it isn’t damp. Green and/or damp wood has a lot of moisture, so it won’t burn efficiently. All the energy in your fire goes toward heating that water up. Dry wood will burn at the high and consistent temperatures needed to complete combustion. You want to burn your fires at consistently high temperatures so you get the proper combustion. This means the fire will produce more heat (better performance) and less toxic fumes (smoke, carbon dioxide, etc.)
Maybe you’re thinking “but wait—if my fire is hotter, doesn’t that mean my wood will burn up quickly?” You wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that, either. That’s why using hardwoods like oak are better than soft woods (like pine), since they burn more slowly.
Open the damper all the way. Your fire needs all the air it can get, so make sure it has access to every source. This is also important because it allows the smoke to escape up through the chimney instead of pouring into your home.
How opening a window can warm you up. Like I mentioned above, fires need a lot of air. Opening a window lets the fire take cold air from outside, instead of using up the warm air and sending it outside through the chimney.
Shut the doors. If you have correct fitting tempered glass doors, you will reduce the amount of warm air in the home being consumed by the fire. Doing this will also heat up the chimney, which helps out a lot with combustion.
Sweep, sweep, sweep. As a retired fireman with well over 30 years doing both firefighting and chimney service, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t harp on getting your chimney cleaned and inspected every year. If my experience isn’t enough to sway you, the CSIA and NFPA also recommend annual cleanings. And it isn’t just for safety. You’ll increase your fireplace’s performance by removing creosote, which blocks the proper flow of air and release of smoke. So give me a call to help get the most for your money out of every fire you light.