Our Company Blog

Tips for Operating Your Wood-Burning Fireplace

Wood-burning fireplaces serve as a serious asset when temperatures drop. They provide added heat, ambiance, and can help to lower wintertime home-heating bills. There are some ways you can get more from your wood-burning fireplace. In fact, by implementing some best practices for operating your wood-burning appliance, you can actually cut the amount of wood you burn by 30 percent, while enjoying the same or better heat output.

Burn Only Seasoned Firewood

Tips for Operating Your Wood-Burning Fireplace - Waldorf, MD - Tri County Heart and PatioThe No. 1 way to get maximum heat and efficiency from your fireplace is to burn only wood that has been properly seasoned, or dried. Properly seasoned firewood lights easier and burns hotter. Firewood must be split into logs and loosely stacked for six to 12 months after it’s cut to reduce moisture content. Once it’s dried, seasoned firewood should be stored off the ground protected from the elements until it’s ready to use.

Build Your Fires the Right Way

There is a proper way to build a fire for optimal heat. Start with kindling and smaller pieces of wood, along with some fire starter, like newspaper. You can place the newspaper on the bottom, top loosely with kindling and then add some small pieces of firewood. You can also build an “upside down” fire by placing the larger pieces of wood on the bottom perpendicular to one another, then top with kindling in the opposite direction. Add larger logs gradually to the fully lit and burning fire. In addition, make sure there is ample space between the logs to allow air to circulate.

Use the Right Accessories

There are accessories you can add to your fireplace to get a more efficient burn. A fire grate or andirons elevate the fire to allow air to circulate around and fuel the fire. A fireback reflects the hot air from your fire back into your living space. In addition, ceramic glass doors absorb and radiate heat outward from your fireplace, returning more of the fire’s heat to your home.

Keep Your Fireplace and Chimney Clean

Your fireplace and chimney should be professionally inspected and cleaned at least once per year. This reduces your risk of a chimney fire, and ensures that your chimney is in good repair and free from debris that could inhibit its operation. An annual inspection also verifies that all fireplace components are functioning properly and that your fireplace burns with maximum efficiency.

If you’re ready to get the most from your wood-burning fireplace this winter, stop by Tri-County Hearth & Patio Center today! We can help you find accessories to increase your fireplace’s efficiency or talk to you about a wood-burning insert that will increase the amount of heat you get from your hearth.

Your Hearth Appliance Needs Regular Maintenance

As temperatures drop, homeowners everywhere will fire up their hearth appliance to help keep their homes warm and cozy. Too many homeowners, however, forget an important aspect of having a hearth appliance: Hearth appliances need regular maintenance! Before you fire up your hearth appliance this year — whether it’s wood burning, pellet burning, gas or electric, vented or unvented — you need to take steps to make sure it’s clean, in good repair and safe to enjoy.

Chimney Sweeping Hearth Appliances Need Maintenance Image - Waldorf MD - Tri-Country Hearth

All hearth maintenance, unless you have an unvented appliance, begins with a chimney sweep. In wood-burning fireplaces, creosote builds up within the chimney and poses a fire danger when it reaches a certain thickness. Soot can cause the chimney to corrode in gas appliances. In all vented appliances, the chimney can become blocked with animals, animal nests, leaves and debris that can turn the chimney into a hazard.

Appliance Cleaning

All hearth appliances need to be cleaned regularly. While ash obviously needs to be removed from wood- and pellet-burning appliances, gas, and electric appliances require cleaning, too. Dust can collect on blowers and logs, compromising their ability to work safely and efficiently. Ceramic logs can break down over time, and the pieces can clog the working components of a fireplace. Your hearth appliance, whether vented or unvented, should be professionally cleaned at least once per year to keep it in good working order.


Beyond cleaning, an inspection of the appliance and the chimney by a certified professional is perhaps the most important aspect of hearth appliance maintenance. A professional chimney sweep will inspect all working components of your hearth appliance to make sure they are functioning properly and safely. Your sweep also will make sure all gaskets are sealing properly, firebricks and chimney liners are free from cracks and in good repair and that the damper and chimney cap are in place and free from damage. Ultimately, your hearth inspection ensures that your hearth appliance is in good repair and safe for another season of use.

Other Maintenance Considerations

There are a few other things you should be doing to make sure your hearth appliance is ready for use. Check the area around the fireplace to make sure it is free of any furniture, décor or combustibles that could pose a fire hazard. Invest in other safety tools, such as a fireplace screen or fire-safe rug for in front of the fireplace. And check all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home to be sure they are functioning properly.

Before you light your hearth appliance this fall, make sure you’ve carried about the necessary maintenance so that you can enjoy your fireplace or heating stove without incident this fall and winter! If you’re due for a fireplace cleaning or inspection, or if you have questions about repairs or the care of your fireplace, contact the fireplace professionals at Tri-County Hearth & Patio sister company, Magic Broom Chimney Sweeps. The certified professionals at The Magic Broom can take care of all of your hearth maintenance needs so you can safely warm your home this winter.

By Joshua Kelly | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Come See Us!

Tri-County Hearth & Patio Center | 2475 Old Washington Road Waldorf, Maryland 20601