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How to Control Heat Output in your Fireplace

Install a chimney damper for more efficient fireplace heatingDo you want to control heat output in your fireplace? This is not a question of how efficient your wood-burning system is but rather a question of what steps you can take to build the kind of fire you really want. There are times you want a long-burning and very hot wood fire, and other times you want to enjoy a fire that simply takes the nip out of the air and doesn’t create lingering heat. The following are tips that can help.

Hardwoods or Softwoods?

All wood is categorized as either hardwood or softwood, and the two types are very different, as relates to the kind of fire in your fireplace. The wood you burn is what chiefly determines a fire’s output of heat and the duration of output. Whichever kind of wood you burn, it is of utmost importance that it be seasoned or properly dried. All logs are fairly saturated with moisture when fresh cut. It usually takes between six months to a year in the right conditions for firewood to be seasoned and ready for your fireplace.

Softwoods. The following are traits of softwoods that set them apart from hardwoods, along with some trees that are softwoods:

  • Softwoods are about half the density of hardwoods.
  • They dry out faster than hardwoods.
  • Softwoods make the best kindling because they ignite more rapidly and quickly create hot flames that can get your fire going.
  • Softwoods create fine ashes, and they leave virtually no hot coals.
  • Burning softwoods, which are very resinous, you can enjoy nice sparks and crackles.
  • For mild weather, burn softwoods.
  • Examples of softwoods are: pine, fir, spruce, cedar, and redwood.

   Hardwoods. Hardwoods are twice as dense as softwoods, which  means the same amount of logs will last you about twice as long. Hardwoods produce hot coals that can continue burning for a very long time. Examples of hardwoods are: Walnut, maple, hickory, beech, and oak. When the weather is really cold, it’s best to burn hardwoods, though a mix of both types is also an excellent way to build a hot fire.

Amount of Firewood

If you are relying on your firewood to get you warm in frigid temperatures, build a large fire with plenty of wood. If, on the other hand, you are building a fire when the weather is mild, a small fire of softwoods is ideal.

Loading Method

Burning FirewoodYou can also control heat output in your fireplace by loading the wood in ways that create fires that are hotter or not as hot. If you are building a fire in mild weather, use a small amount of small and medium softwoods and stack them loosely.

For a hot fire that lingers, burn large pieces of hardwoods but also burn some softwoods. Build a compact fire in the firebox so that the load is not easily penetrated by air or flames.

Ash Removal

Your fire needs to get a sufficient amount of air, whether you want it for mild or cold weather. Be sure to keep excessive ash cleaned out of your fireplace. Always use recommended safety procedures; ash removal and disposal can be a deadly hazard, if not done properly and with caution.

Isn’t it nice to know you can control the heat output in your fireplace? The enjoyment you have of your fireplace can only increase when you know how to create the desired amount of heat.

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