6 Tips for Upgrading Fireplace Efficiency & Appearance
Relaxing to the soothing sounds of a sizzling fireplace with a nice cup of cocoa is a favorite winter pastime for many families. But your wood-burning fireplace may not be looking its best or operating at its peak efficiency. In fact, a wood-burning fireplace is not considered an efficient way to heart a home, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is because much of the heat is lost through the chimney. Fortunately, these six tips will make it possible to upgrade your fireplace efficiency and appearance:
1. Chimney Inspection and Sweep
A chimney inspection and cleaning by a certified chimney sweep not only improves fireplace efficiency, but safety as well. The creosote that accumulates in the chimney sticking to the walls and flue from the combustion process is flammable and is the leading cause of a chimney fire in unswept chimneys. A chimney inspection is also important. Small cracks in the masonry can allow water to penetrate. This accelerates its deterioration which will have a negative affect on appearance. It will also allow the cold outside air to mix with the heated air in the flue resulting in a cooler room and wasted energy. Repairing masonry damage, especially leaks, will significantly increase fireplace efficiency.
2. Clean the Hearth
Give your hearth a little love with a good cleaning to upgrade your fireplace appearance. Simply don a pair of rubber gloves and use a sponge to gently clean the hearth with mild soapy water. You can use this method to clean stone, granite, cement or any other type of masonry. Some stains may be more difficult and will need to be removed by a fireplace specialist.
3. Burn Seasoned Wood
The best type of woods to burn in a fireplace is good quality dense hardwoods that have been seasoned for 6 – 12 months. These include oak, hickory and maple, for example. Seasoned hardwoods burn longer and hotter with less creosote making them the most efficient types of woods for your fireplace. You will enjoy the sparkling flame show for a longer period of time while reducing energy costs too.
4. Install Tempered Glass Fireplace Doors
Installing tempered glass fireplace doors not only serves as a necessary protective barrier, especially around children and pets, it significantly improves heating efficiency by concentrating heated air in the room instead of it going up the chimney. Plus, there are a number of wonderful styles to choose from which will greatly enhance the appearance of your fireplace.
5. Reface your Fireplace
Refacing your fireplace is a great way to upgrade its appearance with a brand new look for less than the cost of rebuilding. Limited by only your imagination, you can reface your fireplace using a wide variety of materials like brick, stone, slate or granite to achieve a dramatic look that complements your home décor.
6. Install a Fireplace Insert
But for the ultimate upgrade in both efficiency and appearance, EPA-certified fireplace inserts are the way to go. These self contained heating appliances slide right into an existing fireplace with up to 90 percent heating efficiency and a cleaner burn with less pollution than a traditional fireplace.
With a number of fuel options including electric, gas, wood and pellet wood, converting an existing fireplace into a different fuel source is easy, practical and affordable. An optional blower motor pushes the warm air out into the room keeping it warm and toasty for hours. Vent-free and zero clearance inserts are perfect for fitting inside small, tight spaces without the need for a chimney.