It is mid September and today's temperatures are in the mid 90's, so this HOT topic might come as a surprise to some.
Believe it or not, winter is just around the corner. While summer seems unwilling to let go, it will soon be fireplace weather. Normally we have our first fire at the Golden house around mid October.
Very few things can invoke the sense of peace and well being like sitting next to a warm fire with family and friends. I can't leave out pets. (Our dog Ruben loves sleeping by the fire)
I'd like to go over the steps you need to help you safely and efficiently enjoy your fireplace for years to come!
Step 1- Make sure you have your fireplace inspected on a regular basis. (Once a year if you burn a lot of wood) There are three levels of creosote build up that can occur; the build up will only worsen if you don't maintain your fireplace. The first level is a powdery build up in the flue; the second is a flaky build up that looks similar to corn flakes ( only black) and has a crackly texture. These levels are easily removed by a qualified chimney sweep. The third and most dangerous level is the shiny smooth slick build up of creosote. This is the cause of most chimney fires! Please note that as the smoke rises it cools and that is when the build up occurs, so the greatest amount of build up will be found at the top of the flue where it is the hardest to see! Here is some good news! There are products available that reduce the build up and make cleaning the flue easier. These products are available in a spray or powder form and are applied while you have a fire burning in your fireplace.
Not only are chimney fires dangerous but they are also quite costly. A factory built fireplace found in most new homes can be replaced in part or as a whole. A true masonry fireplace can suffer enormous damage due to the flue liner being damaged by the high heat generated by a chimney fire. Chimney fires burn hot and can be tough to put out.
We have used Top Hat Chimney Sweeps out of Auburn/Opelika for many years both personally and professionally. Trent and his team do a great job. They even helped me repair a stubborn leak around my chimney, and they guarantee their work.
Step 2 - (NOTE TO READER - FOLLOW STEP 2 AND STEP 1 GETS MUCH EASIER) Only burn seasoned HARD WOOD. By seasoned I mean split and stacked for at least 6 months prior to burning. This is where most home owners fall short. Green firewood burns faster but with less heat and worst of all it is dirty and causes faster creosote build up. It is a myth that green firewood is better to burn than seasoned wood. Here is a simple trick to test firewood! If you don't know how long it has had to season, just knock 2 pieces together. Green firewood will feel heavy and dense and sound dull. Seasoned firewood feels light and has a hollow (ring) sound to it. I know it might sound crazy but once you've tried it you'll feel and hear the difference.
Concerning the species of wood. You can't go wrong with white oak, red oak, and the all time favorite hickory. These types of wood burn cleaner, slower and hottest with the highest B.T.U. ratings. DO NOT burn pine, sweet gum or poplar. To properly season your firewood, cover the top of the stack but leave the sides open. The more air and sun it can get the better off you will be. Try to keep it off the ground. Some pressure treated 4x4 post will work fine as runners, so there is no wood to ground contact. Remember you are trying to let air flow through your stack to get rid of the naturally occurring moisture that is in the wood. A common mistake is to cover a woodpile over the top and sides with a tarp...this traps the moisture.
We hope this Blog on a log will help you enjoy your home fireplace comfortably and safely this winter. Football season has kicked in, hunting season will soon start with a bank, and the leaves will be starting to turn. The first taste of Fall will soon be in the air. Get outside and soak up this special time of year!
Please remember TEAM GOLDEN is here to answer your questions and assist you with all of your Real Estate needs here in La Grange and the surrounding West GA and East AL areas!
Happy Fall Y'all!
( Be watching for our next Blog...Caution is BEST with a Yellow Jacket Nest!)