Be a Fireplace Master: Control Heat Output
A fireplace is beautiful, and flickering wood fires provide a wonderful ambiance like nothing else. You can further enhance the enjoyment of your fireplace by controlling heat output. Building fires that achieve just what you want may earn you a reputation as a Fireplace Master, which is at least one level above a Boy Scout with a campfire badge. There’s something primitive about fires, and it can truly be exciting to control the flames created with burning logs. Of course, there is also the practical side. Your home will be more comfortable if you build fires that provide the amount of heat needed for the moment. There are three basic elements involved with controlling heat from the fireplace: The type of wood being burned; the amount of fuel added to the fire; and the method of loading the logs in the fire.
Type of Firewood
Hardwoods and softwoods are the two basic types of firewood. The logs used in any fire should be seasoned, which means that they have dried out, usually through a process of time. Firewood can take up to a year or more to sufficiently dry out, and it can also take as little as six months.
Hardwoods and softwoods are distinctly different from one another, and the type of fire you want will determine whether you need one, the other, or a combination of both. Characteristics of the wood follow:
· Softwoods have approximately half the density of hardwoods. This is the best wood to use for kindling. It ignites very rapidly and burns quickly. The flames burn hot and produce little to no hot coals. Softwoods light easily, burn quickly, and create a charming spark and crackle effect because they are very resinous. Examples of softwoods include: pine, spruce, redwood, fir, and cedar.
· Hardwoods are very dense. They burn far longer than softwoods and produce hot coals, which can stay hot for a long time. The ashes need to be handled carefully, because of the coals. Examples of hardwoods are beech, maple, hickory, walnut, and oak.
What Fuel for Fire Type?
When you think about the amount of heat you want to create with your fire, it helps to consider the fact that hardwoods and softwoods produce the same amount of heat, pound for pound. This means that twice as much is needed of softwoods to produce the same heat as hardwoods.
When weather is mild, it’s best to burn softwoods. The fire will start quickly but will also die out quickly, which means you can prevent the fire from making your home uncomfortably warm.
In extremely cold weather, it’s best to start with softwoods as kindling, get the fire going strong, and then burn hardwoods. The more wood you use, the more heat you produce.
Loading the Logs in the Fire
The way you load the firewood also determines the amount of heat to be produced. Here are tips for building a fire in mild weather:
· Use small and medium pieces of softwoods.
· Load the firewood loosely.
· Build a flash fire utilizing a limited number of softwood logs; they will burn quickly without any smoldering.
Tips for building a very hot, enduring fire with lingering heat:
· You can use a combination of hardwoods and softwoods.
· Choose large logs for the fire.
· For long-lasting heat, load the firewood tightly so that there is little room for air.
A well-maintained chimney is an essential factor in mastering fires in the fireplace. Contact us at Chimney Saver Solutions for chimney cleaning, chimney inspection, and all of your needs related to fireplaces and stoves. Our professionals are trained and licensed, and our goal is to help ensure that you can safely master your fireplace. Whatever your chimney needs in the Richmond area, give us a call today at 804-440-5000.