Fundamental Fireplace Facts
Natural gas, electricity, and oil are the most prevalent fuel sources for modern home heating systems. Although the fireplace can't compete with modern heating systems as an energy and cost-efficient source of heat, the fireplace remains one of the most popular features in a home.
Maintaining Your Fireplace
The first step to having a healthy, well-maintained fireplace is to burn the right fuel. Being choosy about what you burn improves heating efficiency and helps the environment as well.
No matter what type of material is used to construct the firebox (the place where you burn the wood) they are designed to withstand extreme temperatures. However, over time, the brick, mortar, or panels can crack and crumble, creating a serious fire hazard.
Dealing with the Damper
The damper is a steel or cast-iron door that opens or closes the throat of the firebox into the flue. It regulates draft and prevents the loss of heat up the chimney.
Caring for the Outside of Your Chimney
A chimney can be either an exposed pipe, a framed enclosure that is covered with siding that houses the flue pipe, or a masonry chimney. In all cases, it travels from the inside of the home to the outside either through a roof or out a wall. The point where the chimney exits the structure is a primary source of leaks.
Cleaning a Soot-Covered Brick Fireplace Face
Oils and soot make an otherwise handsome brick fireplace face look tired and tattered. To reduce the effect of oils and soot, regularly vacuum a brick face and hearth and periodically wipe them down with a damp sponge.
Cleaning Glass Doors and Screens
A fireplace exhausts smoke in a sort of siphon action. Once heat begins to rise through the stack, the siphon continues to draw air from within the house. In this way, the fireplace actually removes warm air from your home. To offset the problem, you can install glass doors and add outside air ducts.