Your Top 5 Fireplace Questions Answered

Fireplaces are on a lot of homebuyer’s “must have” list, but if you’ve never had one or used one before, it can be intimidating. Here are some common questions and tips on how to use them!


How do I use a wood burning fireplace? 

  • Get your chimney inspected by a professional. This really should be done every year, before the first fire of the season.

  • Prepare the fireplace. Sweep out old ash with a broom and make sure the damper is open and working properly.

  • Gather and prep your wood. Use seasoned hardwood that has been split and dried- preferably for at least 6 months. Stack a few pieces in the fireplace over some kindling or a ball of newspaper.

  • Prime the flue. This step heats the cold air inside the flue so you don’t get a back up of smoke. Light a tightly rolled up sheet of newspaper and hold it toward the open damper for a few min, until you see the smoke going up the chimney flue.

  • Light it up! Light your fire and enjoy. When the fire has gone out for the night, be sure to close the metal or glass doors before you go to bed.


Are fireplaces efficient? 

  • It depends. Wood-burning fireplaces, for all their old-fashioned charm, are a wildly wasteful way to heat a house. Since heat rises upward, most of it escapes through the chimney. Fireplaces located against an outside wall lose even more heat, since much of it is lost to the cold outdoor air.Solution? Only use your wood-burning fireplace for special occasions. If you don’t plan on using your fireplace often, you can purchase an inflatable plug to add insulation.Gas fireplaces are more efficient, and the newest models are realistic enough to make you forget that you don’t own any firewood. Switching to a gas insert is expensive, though, especially if you have to make changes to your chimney.If aesthetics are all that matter, use your fireplace to display lit candles.

Are fireplaces safe?

  • Fire in a house is never really safe. But you can still safely enjoy a fireplace if you use common sense and maintain it correctly: Store firewood away from the house; Use mesh or metal screens when the fire is lit; Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order; always make sure the damper is open before starting a fire.

Why does my gas fireplace smell?

  • What you smell is an additive that’s been included in the propane to help you detect gas leaks. Vent-free gas fireplaces typically come with an oxygen depletion sensor that will shut off the flame if too much carbon monoxide is detected, and vented fireplaces pull fumes away from the house. You still must be careful though, and make sure to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly.

How often should I clean my chimney? 

  • Have a professional inspect your chimney annually. They will likely recommend having it cleaned if the soot and creosote residue is about 1/8 of an inch thick. This is important to prevent chimney fires and airflow problems.


If you have more questions about fireplaces and/or chimneys, or need a recommendation for a chimney specialist, give us a call! 317-902-2989