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Burning the Proper Firewood

A blazing fire in the fireplace is made possible by selecting and burning the correct type of firewood. Well-seasoned firewood of the highest quality enables a fireplace or wood stove to burn cleaning and efficiently. Firewood that is wet or “green” may create odor, cause smoking, and contribute to rapid buildup of creosote. Burning improper firewood can even cause a chimney fire.

It's important to only burn seasoned firewood

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Well-seasoned firewood is 20 to 25 percent water, much less than the 45 percent water content of freshly cut wood. When seasoned wood is used, a fire will be easier to start, will burn cleaner, and more heat will be produced. Wood should sit for between six months and one year before burning so wind and sun can remove the water. It should be stored off the ground and protected from constant exposure to snow, rain, and other moisture.

Green wood is not as well-seasoned so the heat generated by combustion during a fire must dry the wood before the logs will burn. This consumes a large amount of energy, resulting in reduced heat distribution. The large amount of water released ends up as creosote, which deposits itself in the chimney and can create a hazardous condition.

Well-seasoned firewood is identified by darkened ends or visible splits or cracks. Each log is relatively lightweight and when two logs are hit together, a clunking sound emits. Firewood that is not well-seasoned has fresh-looking ends and is very heavy. When two green logs are struck together, a dull thud emits.

Investing in a wood shed featuring a roof and loose or open sides will allow air to circulate and dry the wood. If this is not feasible, store the wood in a sunny spot and cover the pile with a tarp during rainy or snowy weather. Wood can last for three to four years, providing plenty of fuel for many comfortable fires.

Understanding the Function of Your Chimney Liner

The chimney is much more complicated than it looks at first glance. With multiple parts making up its existence, homeowners need to be aware of all of them and their roles in order to ensure their chimney is operating safely every year. One part that plays a major role in the operation of the fireplace and chimney is the chimney liner.

Understanding the function of your chimney liner

A liner is on the inside of the chimney and is generally made from clay or metal. In many cases, clay is the preferred type of liner because it is much less expensive and is generally covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy. While this type of liner is less expensive, it does have some disadvantages.

The second type of common liner would be a metal chimney liner. These are generally made from either stainless steel or aluminum. These types of liners have a very long lifespan, but they also cost significantly more. In addition, because of the added costs, you may have to upgrade your insurance policy to have it covered in case of damage.

The main purpose of the liner, regardless of its composition, is to absorb the heat created when the fireplace is in use. Its ability to absorb the heat protects the masonry work on the outside of the chimney. It will also prevent creosote from building up on the brick, which is not only dangerous, but will also eat away at the masonry work and cause damage that can be very expensive to repair.

The second purpose of the liner is to create the proper flow of air in and out of your chimney. The flue serves as the pathway for the air to travel out of the fireplace, up the chimney, and outside the home. If this is damaged, you may experience a backdraft, which cannot only blow smoke back into your home, but also blow the fire into the room. Needless to say, it is imperative to have the liner checked every season before you plan to use your fireplace.

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