Wood fireplaces and preparing for the winter

Two "blocks" of wood crossed over on...
Two “blocks” of wood crossed over one another, as they burn in a fireplace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before you surrender to your primal prompts and set even a single log ablaze, be certain you have actually taken the steps required to make the fires you begin this season as effective– and safe– as possible. Mark Schaub, of Chimney Savers in Hillsborough, New Jersey, has actually offered his knowledge on many This Old Residence television jobs. Here, he takes you through the drill.

1. Hire a Chimney sweeper

Book a professional to provide your chimney and hearth its yearly physical. A licensed chimney sweeper will examine your masonry, flue liner, chimney cap, and venting system to ensure everything’s clean, clear, and up to code. You can find a sweep with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (csia.org). Prices vary, but expect a basic hour-long evaluation and cleaning to run around $200.

2. Test Your Equipment

Shine a flashlight on the damper and attempt it out a couple of times to see to it it opens and closes securely. The majority of wood-burning fireplaces have a metal grate to cradle firewood up off all-time low so air can distribute around the logs; if the grate is broken or sagging, replace it. Stimulates can fly into living locations with ripped screens or fit together that does not close all the means; avoid injury and damage by lubricating or changing deteriorated mesh.

3. Use the Right Wood

Beside a yearly sweeping, burning dry, split hardwood is the very best thing you can do for your fireplace. It starts easily, burns for a long time, and leaves less creosote in the flue. Shop or cut wood in the late winter season, prior to it’s complete of spring sap, and let it dry outside for 6 months. Well-seasoned wood is grayish and furrowed with natural fractures. Generating just as much as you need for your next fire; wood can harbor bugs that might end up being active in the heat of your home. Outdoors, keep the stack covered ahead and open on the sides to keep the wood dry.

4. Warm the Flue

Smoke won’t increase if the flue is filled with cold air. To avoid downdrafts that can press out smoke and poisonous fumes, warm up the air in the flue first. After you have actually opened the damper– and prior to you’ve lit the logs– urge fireplace smoke to travel up and out the chimney by lighting a rolled-up sheet of paper and holding it in a gloved hand at the opening to the flue, so warm air can rise.

5. Know Exactly what Not to Burn

Fireplaces make poor incinerators. Avoid tossing in Christmas trees, pizza boxes, and driftwood, which flare up quick and can trigger a fire in an unclean chimney. Also on the “do not burn” list: painted or treated lumber and newspaper printed in color, because the chemicals and inks develop toxic fumes. Produced firewood– formed of compressed sawdust, pencil shavings, copper sulfate, and paraffin wax– is a fine option on its own, but don’t burn manufactured logs with genuine wood or flare-ups could result.

6. Don’t Overload the Firebox

Burning more than three logs at a time enhances heat saturation, which could ultimately fire up combustible products surrounding to the fireplace and chimney. (This is a bigger problem with older fireplaces, which might not have the air space in between framing and masonry mandated by existing codes.) Schaub recommends testing for heat saturation by positioning your hand right above the mantel: If it’s too hot to keep your hand there, quit making use of the fireplace until you have the system inspected.

7. Build a Fire (the simple means).

Here’s Schaub’s foolproof method for a comfortable fire in 15 minutes: Spark a fire-starter brick in the center of the grate. Next, location one log, lengthwise, behind the starter and an additional one in front of it. When those catch, position a log diagonally across them. This setup encourages combustion air to stream around all 3 logs.

8. Watch and Wait.

“Fireplaces resemble kids. They need to be watched,” states Schaub. “Be ready to remain with the fire up until the end.” Let it burn out naturally– water tossed onto the fire can harm the firebox– then dispose of ashes safely in a metal bin left outdoors until the embers pass away. Never vacuum up fresh ashes. “You ‘d be impressed at how long embers can stay hot in a bed of ash,” Schaub says. “It can be a few days prior to they cool.”.

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