Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Wood Burning Fireplaces - Safety and Cleaning Concerns


Winters can be really severe in many countries like Canada and in the northernmost parts of Europe. There may be snowstorms, and electrical wires can become covered with snow. It can be hard to generate electrical power with water freezing in falls and dams. This is just one reason traditional methods of burning wood for heat continues to be prevalent.

Many houses therefore have wood burning fireplaces. Traditionally, wood burning fireplaces are made of bricks and mortar, or stones and mortar. The bricks used to make the wood burning fireplaces are special bricks; they can withstand a large amount of heat. Metal chimneys are also available. Wood burning fireplaces can be built for indoor requirements as well as outdoor. Any such fireplace should be large enough to hold enough firewood for the entire evening and if need be, throughout the night. There should be an opening for air to permeate in such fireplaces because oxygen is essential for burning anything, including wood.

Indoor wood burning fireplaces should be designed such that any ambers flying from them should not reach far into room where there might be some inflammable materials. Even so, the fireplace needs to also be large enough to generate enough heat to fill the room.

There are a few potential cleaning and maintenance problems associated with wood burning fireplaces. Over a period of time, the cement in between the bricks in the chimney or fireplace wall can come out, the bricks become loose, and this might lead to the collapse of the chimney. In the case of metal chimneys, similar problems may arise due to screws used at various joints. If these go missing, then there is a chance of accident. Rust can be another problem with metal chimneys.

Apart from fire, heat, and ambers, wood burning also results in generation of soot and fumes. There should be an outlet for these as well. Chimneys serve this function, effectively keeping the room free from soot as well as resulting pollutants. Chimneys need to be cleaned periodically. Creosote, a hard dark brown to black inflammable substance is often formed while burning wood. This is formed due to a presence of excessive moisture in the wood. Using dry wood helps in resolving this problem to a great extent. Apart from this, ensuring that adequate air supply reaches inside the fireplace also ensures that not much creosote is formed.

Since the area around the fireplace can get really hot, it is not possible to place any sofa or other seating arrangements close to it. Likewise, any electrical and electronic gadgets too are kept away from the place. But a fireplace offers good scope to decorate it with colorful stones, bricks, and other masonry designs, imparting a traditional look to the fireplace, and making the room look elegant.

In summary, wood burning fireplaces are a functional and elegant addition to any room, but remember they require periodic care and maintenance to continue being an asset to your decor.

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