Wood burning fireplaces produce heat that warms your soul. There is nothing that compares to the warm crackling fire, the smell of burning wood, and the comforting ambiance they create. And with Acucraft’s high-efficient fireplaces, you can practically eliminate your heating bill. But unless your fireplace is well taken care of, it may not perform to its potential. Acucraft’s wood fireplace expert, Mike Hannan, who has more than 20 years of experience installing and servicing wood fireplaces, gave us his tips on how to keep your wood burning fireplace happy and healthy for years to come.
Burning the Right Wood
The wood you use in your fireplace can greatly impact your fireplace’s output. Mike recommends using dry hard wood, he prefers Oak, with 18-22% moisture. (You can check your wood’s moisture with a wood moisture meter. Here are some of Mike’s picks from Amazon.) High moisture wood will not burn as well; it will drop the overall efficiency and heat output. To achieve quality dry wood, split your firewood to less than 6 inches in diameter and about 3 inches shorter than your firebox’s width or length. For example, if burning in our Hearthroom 36 model: the firebox is 34.5” wide and 18.5” deep. So, the firewood would need to be 31.5” long or less. After the firewood is split, Mike recommends storing it for at least 12 months. Be sure to store your wood in a wood shed or under a tarp; if using a tarp, remove the tarp during the warm summer months. If you don’t have the space to store your own firewood, there are many quality firewood suppliers throughout the nation. Don’t settle for less!
Ash is Important
We have been building wood fireplaces and burning wood for over 35 years and have tested hundreds of methods in order to create the ultimate wood-burning experience. Mike is a firm believer that ash in your fireplace is necessary in maintaining red, hot coals and a longer burn time. He recommends having a one-inch layer of ash at the bottom of your firebox, and placing your logs directly on the firebrick instead of using a grate. “Having the ash provides elevation needed for the logs to breathe and will insulate coals. Ash will slow the burning rate and will increase burn times. A fireplace grate can create too much elevation and can actually lower the temperature of the flames.” Mike advises that you will still need to occasionally clean the ash from your fireplace, but be sure to always leave some ash behind.
Outside Air Affect
Outside air temperature can play a large part in poor chimney drafting. If the outside air is over 45°, the fireplace may struggle to draft. Chimneys work off of temperature differentials; as a result, it won’t draft as well if temps are over 45° outside. Mike recommends having the combustion air inlet controls 100% open when it’s over that 45° temperature. During the colder months, close the controls to 50%. This will provide the perfect amount of airflow to your fireplace and can even keep your fireplace glass cleaner in the process. “You may need to play around with your controls as every chimney system will draft differently; you will need to discover what settings work best for your system.”
Wood Fireplace Maintenance & Cleaning
Although an Acucraft fireplace, if burning properly, will keep itself relatively clean; maintenance is required annually. Mike is adamant about having a flue inspection and cleaning done by a professional every year to ensure safety and remove any creosote buildup. The most common causes of creosote buildup are: burning soft, moist, or wet wood, and using newspaper as a firestarter. To avoid these causes, Mike advises you to use wax or sawdust firestarters; they work great with kindling. If you use your fireplace frequently, he also suggests using a creosote spray periodically. (Here are some of his recommendations on Amazon.)
When you love and care for your wood fireplace, it will love you back for a lifetime. It will keep you warm, create a calming yet alluring atmosphere, and save you money in the process.
Learn more about our energy efficient wood burning fireplaces; built for you. Call and ask for Mike Hannan for expert advice and recommendations on your next wood fireplace! (888) 317-6499