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Man enjoys a warm wood burning fireplace

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Wood-Burning Fireplace

Once again, Ottawa’s winter is around the corner. And with it comes the need to layer up in warm clothes and turn on the heat. But some people are hesitant to crank up the thermostat just yet because they know how high their heating bills will get soon enough.

This is when fireplaces come into play. There are so many ways to stay warm this winter with the use of a reliable fireplace, you just have to discover the best fireplace for your needs.

You can kick off the cold season by lighting your first fall fire to heat your home and get cozy. Best of all, you’ll be starting the chilly season comfortably and without fear of those dreaded heating bills.

If a new fireplace sounds appealing to you, consider the following information so you know what to expect when you decide to start shopping for wood-burning fireplaces at a fireplace store near you.

The Benefits of A Wood-Burning Fireplace

Wood fireplaces are a special type of heating source that:

Improve Home Comfort

Nothing can compare to the look, feel, and smell of a wood-burning fireplace. The ambiance of the crackling fire and warm glow makes this a great choice for cozy winter days and nights.

Reduce Heating Costs

Since a wood-burning fireplace will heat the room you’re using, you can lower the thermostat for the rest of your home. This zone heating allows you to reduce your overall heating costs throughout the winter.

Increase Home Value

The appeal of a new, energy-efficient fireplace can increase your home’s value. The improved comfort, lower heating costs, and the pleasure of owning a fireplace can attract potential buyers if you ever decide to sell your home.

Budgeting for A Fireplace

Fireplaces are worthwhile investment to improve your home’s heating, comfort, and appeal. But like all investments, you need to consider the following costs when shopping for a fireplace.

Installation Costs

Fireplaces require professional installation. And the type and size of fireplace you install will affect the installation costs. Some installations require clearing out wall space and adding ventilation, such as a chimney.

But if you have an existing fireplace and you opt for an insert, then installation won’t be as extensive.

Fuel Costs

For a wood-burning fireplace, fuel costs can be cheap if you can source firewood from your property. But chopping your own firewood takes time and energy. So you have to consider this cost. Otherwise, you can buy firewood from a local firewood supplier.

Whichever option you chose, make sure you have a suitable place to store your firewood and keep it dry all winter long.

Maintenance Costs

Chimneys need regular maintenance. You should include the cost of hiring a professional chimney sweep at least once a year in your budget. Fireplace owners should have annual fireplace inspections and cleanings to ensure their fireplaces are in top condition to burn safely and efficiently.

Are Wood Fireplaces Efficient?

Modern EPA-certified wood-burning fireplaces, stoves, and inserts are more energy-efficient than standard fireplaces. EPA-certified fireplaces pull in outdoor air for combustion and circulate indoor air around the firebox to emit as much heat as possible. These also emit less air pollution than standard fireplaces.

You can also make a wood fireplace more efficient by installing glass doors. These doors reduce the amount of warm indoor air that is sucked into the firebox. Glass doors are especially useful for keeping warm air in your home when the damper is open and the fire is burning down.

But to make the most of the fire’s radiant heat, keep the doors open when the fire is burning at its peak heat output.

Wood Fireplace Maintenance Tips

To keep your fireplace burning safely and efficiently, make sure to clean it regularly. Dirty fireplaces reduce the air quality of homes due to a buildup of air pollutants. These can cause eye and throat irritation, coughing, and headaches.

Creosote buildup in fireplaces is also a fire safety hazard. It’s important to clean creosote to prevent the risk of a chimney fire.

Cleaning a fireplace is easy! Just follow these five simple steps:

  • 1. Remove Soot

Use a brush and dust pan to remove loose soot from your fireplace. Then go over the fireplace with a vacuum to pick up any leftover soot and dust.

  • 2. Clean the Grate & Andirons

Take your fireplace grate and andirons outside. Scrub with a wire brush to clean off soot. You can also use oven cleaner to remove caked-on, hard-to-clean soot. Rinse off thoroughly with a hose.

  • 3. Clean the Walls

Use a wire brush and its scraper to scrub soot off the walls of your fireplace. To help with cleanup, line the fireplace floor with newspaper. This will catch the scraped-off soot so you can easily wrap up the newspaper and discard it.

  • 4. Scrub Stubborn Soot

For stubborn, caked-on soot that won’t come off with a wire brush and scraper, use a solution of one cup bleach and one gallon of water. Scrub the interior walls and floor of your fireplace with this solution until the soot is removed.

  • 5. Clean the Chimney

You should hire a professional chimney sweep to clean and inspect your fireplace at least once a year. A chimney sweep will clean away any hazards that could be blocking your chimney—e.g. nests and debris—and posing a chimney fire hazard—e.g. creosote buildup.
A chimney sweep will also inspect your fireplace for structural damage that could reduce the efficiency and safety of your fireplace. Once your fireplace is clean and any necessary repairs are made, you can use your fireplace without worry.

There are also tips to help you discover how to make your wood burning fireplace more eco-friendly.

Alternative Options

Aside from a wood-burning fireplace, you could also consider alternative fireplace options for heating your home and keeping you comfortable this winter.

These options include:

Wood Stoves

Wood stoves have some of the same attributes as wood-burning fireplaces. They have the real flames, smells, and crackling sounds of burning firewood—or pellets. And they require similar cleaning and maintenance.

However, wood stoves don’t have the same installation as a fireplace. Wood stoves need to be 18 inches from the wall and require a chimney, wall covering, and non-combustible base.

Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces are convenient and farily low-maintenance. They don’t require work to build a fire—just push a button and get cozy! They also don’t have any messy soot to clean up.

Gas fireplaces do require a gas line hookup and adequate vent installation meaning your gas bills will increase when your fireplace is in use.

Electric Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces are the least expensive fireplace option. They are low-maintenance, easy to install, and very easy to use. You can start and stop the heat and flames instantly with an on-off switch.

If you don’t need a real flame to enjoy a fireplace in your home, electric fireplaces may be the best option for you. But  keep in mind that these will increase your energy consumption and you may need an electrician to work out the wiring during installation.

Whether you’re looking for a real wood fireplace that is the best for burning firewood efficiently, or you want a more low-maintenance fireplace option, visit your local fireplace store in Ottawa to speak with the fireplace experts. They can help you chose the best fireplace for you, your home, and your budget so you can stay warm and cozy all winter long.