Open fireplaces can be cozy and inviting on a cold, dark winter’s evening. A fireplace in a living room or other open space can be a great focal point in any room. With the cost of energy prices rising, having a fireplace can also be a cost-effective way to heat a room.
To get the most out of your fireplace, what should you know about it?
Components of a fireplace
Most fireplaces – both wood-burning fireplaces and gas fireplaces have a hearth, firebox, damper, and chimney. These fireplace components are actually important safety features. The hearth protects the area in front of the fireplace from excessive heat. The damper and chimney help to remove toxic fumes from the burning fuel.
Although a fireplace brings warmth and coziness to any room, it’s important to remember that fumes and sparks are safety risks.
How can you keep yourself and your family safe if you decide to have an open fire?
- Fireplace inspection. If you plan on using your fireplace after a long period of disuse, then you should arrange for an inspection to check your home that the ventilation is working and there is no buildup of soot in the chimney.
- Flammable items. Keep flammable items well away from the open fire. Sparks and embers can shoot out of the firebox and easily set light to paper or fabric or leave a burn mark on carpets. Make sure and keep a screen in front of the open fire and, as with all fires, never leave it unattended.
- What to burn. You should also be careful of what you burn in your fireplace. The Government of Canada warns that wood smoke contains a number of pollutants that are harmful to your health. You should also avoid burning painted wood, cardboard, plywood, or rotted wood.
The benefits of gas fireplaces
Many homeowners and new-build homes are now choosing gas fireplaces over traditional wood-burning ones. Gas fireplaces have the advantage that they start instantly, require less maintenance, and are not subject to municipal burning restrictions. Gas fireplaces are also more energy efficient when compared to wood-burning ones.