No, Dad, you should not clean your chimney by filling it with newspaper
and lighting it. First, let's dispel the myth that a wood fireplace or stove can cause back drafting
or indoor smoking issues by itself. Most operational problems have little to do with
the fireplace. The chimney is the engine of the fireplace or stove and therefore is
the most important part to diagnose. If your stove or fireplace is back drafting there
are many things that can cause it. Improper chimney planning, not necessarily
installation, is the general root of all evil for consideration. Today's tightly built
homes offer more challenges than ever when it comes to getting smoke to leave
them. We have created a balloon we call a home and try to take air and smoke out
without letting any in. It causes issues. Finding out why your house isn't letting the
smoke out can be a daunting task, even for a National Fireplace Institute Certified
Wood Specialist, but ours have the experience to handle it. Call us for an
appointment with one of them to fix your house.
Wood. It sounds simple, and it is if you know all the rules. Seasoned cord wood is
the only wood that should be used in today's new EPA approved stoves and
fireplaces, but it seems that few people know what 'seasoned' means. Seasoned
means cut and split and stored in such a manner that air can circulate through the
wood while protecting it from precipitation. A tree, cut down and laying on the
ground, will not dry out. The bark and rings of a tree are designed specifically not
to let moisture out. Until you fix that, you can't expect the tree to start to dry.
General Maintenance Your fireplace or stove will require maintenance beyond filling it with wood and
lighting. Your chimney should be cleaned annually by a certified chimney sweep.
Depending on your stove or burning habits, you may need periodic cleaning
throughout the season as well. Our stoves, burned correctly, should only need
annual cleaning. Every time you clean your chimney, you should also inspect the
firebox, gaskets, glass and latches for wear.
Following three key rules will enable you to help keep your chimney clean longer
between cleanings. First, burn only seasoned wood. Burning wet or green wood
takes a huge amount of the heat, which could have been used in your home, to
evaporate the water before the wood can burn. This is why it burns longer in
non-EPA approved appliances, but it is not helpful or efficient. Remember - you
would never add water to the gas in your car 'to make it last longer.'
Second, burn it hot. Small hot fires burn more effectively and efficiently that large
smoldering fires. If you plan to burn your stove for a long period of time on low, then
start with a 30 - 45 minute period of burning on high, to get the chimney warm, get
the large amount of fuel into the charcoal stage faster, and to burn the gases and
residues that would otherwise cling to your chimney.
Lastly, before you even buy a stove and chimney system, make sure to get the
best one your budget can afford. Definitely use an insulated chimney when
possible over an air-cooled chimney. Insulated chimneys keep flue gases hotter
and help to create better draft. Air-cooled chimneys can cause draft problems in
cold climates by taking longer to warm up and being harder to keep warm.
The tip that makes you glad you read all the way to the bottom of the page:How to: Clean your fireplace glass without the use of harsh chemical
Take a damp cloth and dip it into the very fine white ash in your firebox. Rub this
ash on the glass. Repeat as needed until glass is like new. Buff ashes off with a
clean towel. This also polishes metal extremely well, like your favorite brass Zippo
lighter that you use to light your stove.
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