Colder weather is part of the appeal of autumn and winter. In fall, the leaves turn the landscape golden, while snow may blanket your neighborhood in white when temperatures really drop. One of the distinct joys of this time of year is warming up inside after you spend time in the elements, and nothing can replace the experience of cozying up to an open fire.
If you have a wood stove or fireplace, you can enjoy this treat all season long — but fireplace maintenance is crucial to making the experience safe and pleasurable.
Give Your Chimney Some TLC
If your home has a fireplace connected to a chimney, it’s essential you have your chimney cleaned and inspected prior to its first use of the season. Failure to properly maintain your chimney can affect your home’s indoor air quality, and can even increase your risk of a house fire.
Your chimney allows smoke and other dangerous gases to escape your home, but not all of these substances make their way into the great outdoors. Some of these particles accumulate on your chimney’s inner walls, forming a residue called creosote.
With enough creosote buildup, your chimney can become less efficient at venting harmful gases. This can drive smoke into your home, where it could tarnish your home furnishings and create a health hazard through diminished indoor air quality. This risk should be of particular concern if you have people in your home who suffer from respiratory ailments.
Consulting a licensed HVAC or home maintenance specialist for an annual chimney inspection and cleaning is critical to making sure you can enjoy a warm fire without risking anyone’s health or safety. This is definitely a task you don’t want to do yourself.
Go With Gas
A genuine wood flame has unmatched appeal. But while this form of heat is aesthetically pleasing, it’s not particularly efficient. You can feel the warmth when you’re right next to the fire, but most of the heat energy flows right up the chimney and into the outdoors.
But if your home has a natural gas connection, you can get the best of both worlds — a gas fireplace offers the visual appeal of an open flame, as well as a more controllable source of localized heat.
A gas fireplace is no replacement for a traditional furnace or boiler, but because it can efficiently heat a single room, it may allow you to dial down the thermostat if you intend to cozy up to the flames for a while. And since there are no logs or matches to fool with, you can control the flames with the twist of a knob or even with a few taps on your smartphone.
Turn to the Pros
Any room with access to your chimney and/or a natural gas line can be outfitted with a gas fireplace, and even older wood stoves or fireplaces can be a part of your home heating strategy if they’re properly maintained. If you already have the equipment for a fireplace, be sure to clean and maintain your equipment before putting it into heavy use this season. And if your home isn’t currently set up to provide this option, get in touch with our experts to learn more about how to safely and effectively integrate a fireplace or wood stove into your home.
When cold weather arrives, gather your family and friends ‘round the fire – just make sure your home is ready first with these three helpful fireplace maintenance tips.