Since winter is definitely on it’s way we decided to do an article about fireplaces. Since nothing beats sitting in front of a warm fire while it’s snowing outside and drinking some hot coco.
Now a days fireplaces are thought of more as a decoration then as a source of warmth and even cooking. They can still be very useful in heating your home and even cooking up many things from hot water to popcorn to stew, let your imagination and ingenuity go wild. My neighbor across the street does the majority of his winter heating with a wood-stove and on days that one of us is home we run our fireplace.
Since we love history and like to visit restored homes from the 18th and 19th century we have been introduced to some of the inventive things for the fireplace from when it was the center of the home. Some of those things still work and can be a great help with getting the most from your hearth.
Though before adding any additions making sure your fireplace and chimney are in working order should be the first step to using it to help heat your home. A clean and properly functioning fireplace that is kept up can outlive a home. Making sure there are no leaks or cresol buildup in the chimney is essential before using it for the health and safety of you and your family.
The easiest addition to your fireplace would be a fireback or the modern version a fire reflector. These are made of cast iron or reflective metal and are placed at the back of the fireplace to retain and reflect the heat out of the fireplace, not up the chimney. You can also find a grate version where the fireback is attached to the back of the grate, with some you may even have a smaller version on the front to double the heat retention. The fire reflector can be on to three panels that stand behind the fire and due to the shiny surface pushes more heat and light into your home. Another fireplace improvement would be a tepee style grate where the logs are stack like a mini bonfire. This should increases the vertical flow of heat and less heat escapes through your chimney. A grate with a mesh enables the embers to stay together and provide warnth longer.
Blocking the draft when not in use, is another energy saver. There are various methods for this. Closing your flue is only the first defense. There are inflatable bladders that insulate your closed flue, covers that close off the front of the fireplace, having installed doors and so on.
Putting a fireplace insert into an open hearth does everything in one step. Though this is the more expensive single item, if you buy everything above it can be the cheaper one. An insert in basically a wood-stove in your fireplace. It extends out of the fireplace, so more heat goes into the home and you can cook on it easier. Also since the fire can get hotter less of the harmful gases that are released in fires escape. The big drawback is that staring into a roaring fire is now through a small window.
So if you have a fireplace you’ve been keeping candles in maybe it’s time to change it’s use.
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