Frequently Asked Questions About Fireplaces

I have an old fireplace in my home but I never build fires. What else can I do with it?

Occasionally when people have fireplaces built into their homes that they don’t use for fires they will install an electric fireplace. These provide heat, the visual mimicry of flames, and do not produce any smoke.

Fireplaces are also valued for their decorative capabilities, and you might simply find a mantle and doors that suit your room, even without an accompanying fire.

What can I burn in my fireplace?

If you stick to natural wood, you should be fine. Most species of wood can be burned in outdoor fireplaces. Oak, maple, birch, and others can all be burned. It is important to make sure that the logs you select fit into the area of the fireplace. If they are hanging over the sides of the grate or the rim, this is a safety concern.

What should I avoid burning in my fireplace?

Avoid railroad ties and pressure-treated woods, which can contain carcinogens and emit toxic fumes. Similarly, avoid painted and stained wood. Green wood produces excess smoke and doesn’t burn very well.

What are some tips for keeping my fireplace clean and high-functioning?

Avoid burning fires for longer than five hours, and make sure that you open the door for necessary venting. Otherwise, simply make sure that you clean your fireplace regularly, and clean it thoroughly when you are done using it for the season.

Are there safety concerns I should be aware of for my fireplace?

Fireplaces are designed to be self-contained and safe. However, there are some precautions you can take to ensure that this is the case.

Keep your fireplace screen closed to prevent ash, sparks and debris from leaping out into the room. Just in case these do make it out, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a non-flammable rug to put them out automatically. Don’t leave the fire unattended, especially if you have children. Generally speaking, keep the fireplace clean. When you are burning regularly, keep about an inch of ash in the bottom. This will help coals heat faster in the future. When you are closing the fireplace for the season, clean out all of the ash. Since ash can remain hot for a while, do not clean it with a vacuum.