Taking care of your fireplace at the start of the season
By Coval’s Team
| September 29, 2021
Cold days are fast approaching and you dream of settling down by the fireplace with a good hot drink in your hand? You are not alone! Autumn is the season when humidity reaches homes and when the use of auxiliary heating gradually begins to become part of our habits. However, before you get started, here are some tips and good practices to implement to take full advantage of the efficiency of your stove or fireplace depending on its type of fuel.
Heating with wood has a country charm that reminds us of good memories with friends around a campfire. When using a wood-burning stove or fireplace, however, it is important to take some of its particularities into consideration. These slow-burning appliances are designed to heat at high temperatures for long periods of time. They are low pollutants and make it possible to obtain a comfortable temperature throughout the house with few logs. Be aware, however, that if you want to make a short fire in your stove to get the humidity out of a room, it should last more than an hour. Indeed, modern heaters, for the most part, reach their optimum level of efficiency after this period. Before that, they are usually not hot enough to activate their secondary gas combustion system which makes them really efficient in terms of the amount of organic particulate emissions into the air.
Companies like Jøtul have nevertheless tackled this issue by equipping their devices with ultra-efficient technologies directly from the start. Indeed, the Jøtul fusion system produces far fewer emissions, is more efficient and therefore more environmentally conscious.
In addition, it can be tempting, in order to heat your environment quickly, to want to leave the door open during the fall fires. However, in order to guarantee safe and quality heating, it is necessary, for the majority of appliances, to keep the doors closed. Indeed, to do otherwise could cause a fire hazard, either by embers that would fly away or logs that could roll outside. Also, it could lead to the presence of smoke in the house. We invite you to exercise caution in this regard and to take the environment into consideration before turning on your heating system.
How to start a fire in your wood fireplace
Are you ready to make your first fire of the season? Follow these simple steps to get great results. When using your fireplace for a short period, you should choose a well seasoned wood. Pine or birch burn faster than oak or walnut, for example. To start, open the air inlets. Next, place a fire starter, kindling, and a few logs close together. Use a match or lighter to get it started. At the beginning, the door of your appliance must remain ajar to allow moisture to escape from the appliance. After about ten minutes, the fire should have grown in size and color. You can therefore close the door and adjust the air inlets according to your heating objectives.
For a safe experience, we recommend that, in addition to maintaining your fireplace frequently, you pick up the ashes that accumulate and dispose of them safely. However, take care to leave a thin layer of a few centimeters at the bottom. The embers will optimize the heating by protecting the bottom of the appliance and providing natural insulation. Be careful, even if they seem extinct, the ashes remain hot for a very long time, up to about 72 hours.
If you have a system that runs on gas, it is possible that when you turn it on you will notice moisture in the glass at first. An accumulation of water is not desirable since it can cause stains in the glass, rust or mold problems, especially if the appliance is not used much. Devices such as Archgard’s “Dynamic Start” or Jøtul’s “Smart Start” have also been designed to overcome this start-up issue. If your household does not have such devices, there is still a manual procedure you can follow to ensure you get off to a good start. This habit is particularly good at the beginning of the season, when the device is used more sporadically.
Step by step
- Start by turning on the pilot;
- Wait a few minutes to slowly preheat the appliance;
- Light the flames, leaving at a minimum for a few minutes;
- Adjust the temperature as desired.
By following these few steps, you will avoid starting the fireplace cold and your humidity problem should be solved. It will also help maximize the flame effect by preheating your chimney and improving natural draft.
Have you noticed that your “pilot” turns off regularly? Know that this is normal since since 2020, the most recent fireplaces are required to comply with new Canadian safety regulations. These stipulate in particular that the pilot of the device must turn off automatically after 7 days of inactivity. You will therefore have to turn it on again if you use your auxiliary heating little.
How to prepare your fuel
No matter what type of fuel you use, take a few minutes before starting your fire to make sure you have enough. Your propane tank must be properly installed and there must be enough gas left inside. If you have a pellet stove, the burn rate and quality of the pellets vary greatly depending on the type of wood selected. Experiment and use whichever is least messy and easiest to use for your device.
The same goes for wood. What do you have to burn? Treated or painted wood should be avoided at all costs. Other materials such as plastic or waste are also harmful because of the toxic gases they can generate. Also, chemicals can damage your device by clogging it and thus impairing its proper functioning.
What condition is your wood in? Is it dry or wet? Do not heat damp wood, it could cause smoke in your home. We also recommend that you avoid transporting firewood from one region to another. Indeed, its displacement could lead to the spread of invading insects and pests. Using locally sourced wood is better for the environment.
If you have a back-up heating system, be aware that regular and frequent maintenance is essential to promote its efficiency and ensure everyone’s safety. We suggest that you have an inspection done at the start of the season by a specialist. From the first weeks of autumn, an accumulation of what is called creosote, a highly flammable residue found on the walls of the chimney, is responsible for chimney fires. An annual sweep will prevent many long-term problems. Do not hesitate to give your local specialist a call now to make an appointment before the peak period caused by the extreme cold. The latter can also inspect your device and make adjustments if necessary.
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