As the cool breeze of autumn arrives, our attention turns to transforming our homes into cozy retreats. And admit it, there's nothing that embodies the spirit of hygge more than the inviting flicker of a firelight.
But to keep your fireplace burning bright year after year requires diligent care and upkeep. Follow this winter hearth-care guide to learn pro tips for selecting, using, and maintaining your fireplace through the seasons.
Choosing the Right Fireplace
You’ve probably grown up with the traditional wood-burning fireplace sitting at the center of your home, but did you know that fireplaces come in several styles? Yes, and each of them has its own unique use and benefits that are just there waiting for you to place them in the perfect spot in your home.
Here are some kinds of fireplaces you already know and probably don’t know exist:
- First off, the traditional wood-burning fireplaces that deliver old-world charm and ample heat, however, come with the cost of more maintenance, such as stocking firewood and removing ashes. Despite this, their natural burnt wood heat, scent, and mesmerizing dance of real flames create a timeless ambiance that is truly captivating.
- Next on the list are gas fireplaces, which provide the ambiance of real flame but without the mess, with heat and intensity easily adjustable via a knob or thermostat that will no longer require you to haul firewood and tidy up ashes before and after the off-season.
Third are electric fireplaces, which, on the other hand, just mimic the look and heat of a natural fire without the need for wood or fuel that produces emissions and mess. They’re low-cost too and have easy installation requirements, which makes them an accessible option to keep your home warm.
Then there are portable outdoor fireplaces known as fire tables, which are a great way to warm up and set the mood on patios and in outdoor living areas.
- Last on the list are pellet stove burns that compress and combine wood pellets cleanly and efficiently, with feed rates that you can thermostatically control. Plus, pellets are a renewable fuel source. However, pellet refills and electricity for the blower do add to higher operating costs.
When looking for the perfect fireplace for your home, don't rush into it. First, think about your climate and how much heat you really need. Also consider the look you're going for and how much you can spend. Taking the time upfront to factor in stuff like weather, costs, and style will help you end up with a fireplace you truly love.
Struggling to choose what’s best for you? Let an experienced contractor like Krevco help you decide the optimal style and size of fireplace for your space that you’ll surely enjoy!
Prepping Your Fireplace for First Fires
I know it’s a little exciting to set your first fire, but remember, just like any other stuff in your house, you need to check and test it first, not only to ensure it's working properly but also to ensure it's safe to use. So what do you need to do?
- Inspect the firebox, damper, and flue for any needed repairs. Check for cracks or damage. Make sure the damper is fully open.
Seal any cracks in the hearth or smoke chamber with high-temperature fireplace mortar. This prevents hazardous gas leaks.
- Install fire-rated surround materials like durable stone or metal if they are lacking. Combustible surfaces like wood are a fire risk.
- Have the chimney swept and inspected by a certified professional. They can check for creosote buildup or animal nests.
Building the Ideal Fire
Nothing beats gathering around a roaring fire on a chilly evening. But getting that perfect fire going takes some skill. You can't just toss in any old log and expect beautiful flames and cozy warmth. Nope, there's an art to building a proper fire that's both gorgeous to look at and safe for your home.
- The first thing is choosing the right logs. Go for hardwoods like oak or maple, and pick logs that are well-seasoned and dry. Stay away from sappy woods like pine that can smoke up your house.
- Make sure your logs aren't too big either - aim for 2-3 inches in diameter.
- Arrange a few smaller kindling sticks in a crisscross pattern at the base to help the flames catch.
- Before you light anything, open your flue to let the smoke out.
- Check for the buildup of creosote and remove it to prevent chimney fires.
- Use newspaper or firestarter blocks to get the kindling going, then gradually add thicker logs. Stack them loosely so oxygen can flow between them.
- Avoid overstuffing the fireplace, or you'll smother the flames.
- Once you get that fire going well, grab the poker and give those logs a little shift. Moving them around helps the flames get the oxygen they need. A few strategic pokes let the air flow and keep the fire burning bright.
- Add more logs slowly to maintain the blaze.
- Time to relax - you made a perfect fire. Put your feet up and enjoy the warmth of your handiwork!
Importance of Regular Maintenance
Having the chance to enjoy the warm comfort of your fireplace during the cold season is just one of the reasons why you should keep your fireplace in excellent condition.
Here’s how you can ensure its excellent condition:
- Annually inspect your fireplace chimney crown, damper, and flashing for any needed repairs. A chimney cap can prevent water damage.
- Have a professional clean your chimney at least once a year to remove creosote, which is a highly flammable byproduct of wood fires.
- Regularly check seals around glass fireplace doors and screens; replace if worn out or missing to boost efficiency.
- Use an ash rake, shovel, and bristle broom to properly remove ashes; dispose of them in a metal container.
Critical Fireplace Safety Tips
While fireplaces are as beautiful as they are useful, don’t forget that they still have the word “fire” in them, which means you have to be cautious when using them and be critical with measures. Practice fireplace safety with these helpful tips:
- Always use a sturdy metal fire screen or glass doors when burning a fire to prevent dangerous sparks.
- Keep flammable materials like rugs, curtains, and firewood at least 3 feet away from the hearth.
- Open a nearby window slightly for ventilation while burning fires to allow oxygen flow.
- Never leave a burning fire unattended. Embers can pop suddenly, even if flames appear. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher stored near your fireplace—something that you can grab right away.
- Double check if fires are completely extinguished before leaving the house or going to sleep. Doused coals should be cold.
Prioritizing safety will allow you to enjoy your fireplace without worry. Just to be more confident in your safety in an unexpected fire accident, be sure to also have working smoke and CO detectors near your fireplace.
Take this hearth care guide into action to keep the warm glow of hearth and happiness burning all season long as autumn's chill sets in.
Stay warm in style this season with help from the fireplace experts at Krevco. We now provide full installation and maintenance services for all your hearth needs, whether wood-burning, gas, electric, or even fire tables.
Looking to add a traditional wood-burning fireplace for that cozy, rustic ambiance? Need a mess-free gas fireplace installed or repaired? Want the convenience of an electric fireplace without venting or fuel? We carry top brands for you! Our team has you covered.
Let us handle the safe installation, maintenance, and removal of your fireplace so you can focus on enjoying tranquil fireside moments as autumn's chill arrives. Schedule a fireplace installation or service today to get your hearth ready. Krevco is here to help you stay warm in both style and peace of mind this season.