Fireplaces: 11 Things to Know Before You Buy
A drop in temperature means you’ve got heating on the brain. And what better way to warm a room than with an old-fashioned fire? Before you blaze, check out these must-know facts.
1. A fireplace can save you money. Central heating warms up the entire house (including rooms you don’t spend much time in), while a fireplace only heats the room you’re actually in. Be energy smart: turn down the thermostat and build a fire instead.
2. You can have a fireplace without a chimney. Condo dwellers rejoice! You too can enjoy a roaring fire thanks to the advent of electric fireplaces. These babies are not only portable, but they operate without wood.
3. You can upgrade an old fireplace to be more energy efficient. Say goodbye to unwanted drafts. Talk to a professional about adding a fireplace insert. The upfront costs are an initial investment, but over the long term, it will also keep the cold air out and the heat in.
4. Fireplaces can be modern. You don’t need to settle for a traditional looking hearth if you’ve got modern decor. There are plenty of sleek, contemporary styles that omit the standard mantle and incorporate marble, steel and slate rather than the standard brick finish.
5. Keep your fireplace clean. Bring in a chimney sweep to inspect your fireplace. Check with a professional for a regular maintenance schedule.
6. Fireplace tools aren’t just for looks. Yes, dear homeowner, you actually need them to tend to the fire. Snag a set with all the fixings (poker, log lifter, brush, shovel) and you’ll have a much easier time getting the fire started, keeping it going and cleaning it up at the end of the day.
7. An ash can means less mess. Note to self: Toting ashes to and from the garbage can is a recipe for disaster. Invest in an ash can — or better yet an ash vacuum — and say goodbye to getting dirty ashes all over the floor.
8. It’s important to protect your floor. Layer a non-flammable rug in front of the fireplace to protect carpeting or wood floors from wayward sparks. You can also employ a mesh guard or glass doors.
10. Open a window while you blaze. Yes, this may seem counter-intuitive (you are trying to keep out the cold), but cracking open a window will keep the room from filling up with smoke.
11. The kind of wood you burn matters. Choose a mix of softwood and hardwood for best results. Store it outdoors, under a cover and in a spot that’s dry and sunny.