American Home Water & Air: 7 Tips For Increasing Fireplace Efficiency

Increasing Fireplace Efficiency

There is little that is nicer on a cold winter day than settling in beside a hot blaze in your fireplace. However, fireplaces can be notoriously less efficient than other sources of heating. We talked with American Home Water and Air (AHWA) about some of the ways you can increase fireplace efficiency and here is what we learned. You might also be interested in what AHWA had to tell us about switching from gas heat to electric heat.

Maximizing Fireplace Efficiency

Here are some tips you can use to maximize the energy efficiency of your fireplace:

1. Use A Fireplace Insert

Installing a fireplace insert can significantly improve the energy efficiency of your fireplace. An insert is a metal box that fits inside your existing fireplace and has a sealed glass front. This can reduce heat loss up the chimney by 90% or more.

2. Install Glass Doors

Glass doors on a fireplace can help prevent heat loss up the chimney. When the fire is not in use, the doors can be closed to keep heat inside the room.

3. Use A Damper

A damper is a metal plate that can be opened or closed to control the flow of air in and out of the chimney. When the fire is not in use, make sure to close the damper to prevent heat loss up the chimney.

4. Upgrade To A Wood-Burning Stove

If you have an open fireplace, you may want to consider upgrading to a wood-burning stove. Stoves are much more energy efficient than traditional fireplaces and can reduce your heating bills significantly.

5. Have The Chimney Cleaned

A dirty chimney can reduce the efficiency of your fireplace by as much as 30%. It is recommended to have your chimney cleaned annually to remove any buildup of creosote, a black or brown flammable substance that forms in the chimney of a fireplace or wood stove as a result of burning wood.

Creosote is made up of a mixture of wood tar and various other chemicals, including volatile organic compounds and particulate matter. It can be a fire hazard, create health hazards, and contribute to air pollution when released into the atmosphere.

6. Use Dry & Seasoned Wood

Using dry, seasoned wood will ensure that your fire burns more efficiently and produces less smoke, which can reduce the amount of creosote buildup in your chimney.

The best wood to burn in your fireplace for maximum warmth is dry, seasoned hardwood. Hardwoods, such as oak, maple, and birch, burn hotter and slower than softwoods, such as pine and cedar. This means that they will produce more heat and produce fewer sparks and ashes, which can help keep your home safer and cleaner.

7. Install A Gas Fireplace

If you want an even more energy-efficient option, consider installing a gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces can be up to 99% efficient and can be controlled with a switch or remote control.

Employing these recommendations where possible can greatly increase the efficiency of your fireplace, keeping your home warmer with less cost to you.

How Often Should I Have The Chimney Cleaned?

The frequency with which you should have your chimney cleaned depends on several factors, including the type of fuel you burn, the size of your chimney, and how often you use your fireplace. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Wood-burning fireplaces: If you burn wood in your fireplace, it is recommended to have your chimney cleaned annually. Creosote, a byproduct of burning wood, can build up in the chimney and increase the risk of a chimney fire.
  • Gas fireplaces: Gas fireplaces produce less creosote and soot than wood-burning fireplaces, so they generally do not require annual cleaning. However, it is still a good idea to have your chimney inspected by a professional every few years to ensure that it is in good condition and that there is no blockage.
  • Oil-burning appliances: If you have an oil-burning furnace or stove that vents up a chimney, it is recommended to have the chimney cleaned annually.
  • Heavy use: If you use your fireplace frequently, you may need to have your chimney cleaned more often. The more you use your fireplace, the more soot and creosote will accumulate in the chimney.

If you notice any signs of a chimney problem, such as a strong odor of smoke in the house, excessive smoke in the fireplace, or a decreased draft in the chimney, you should have your chimney inspected as soon as possible to determine if cleaning is necessary.

Chimney Maintenance

Chimney maintenance typically includes a comprehensive inspection of the chimney and fireplace, as well as any related systems, to ensure that they are in good working condition and to identify any potential safety hazards. The maintenance may include the following tasks:

  • Chimney cleaning: This involves removing soot and creosote buildup from the chimney to reduce the risk of chimney fires.
  • Chimney inspection: A professional inspector will examine the chimney from top to bottom to check for any damage, such as cracks or missing bricks, which could impact its performance or safety.
  • Flue inspection: The inspector will also check the flue to ensure that it is properly sized for the appliance and that there are no obstructions that could impact the draft and cause problems such as carbon monoxide exposure.
  • Damper inspection: The inspector will examine the damper to make sure it opens and closes properly, which helps regulate the flow of air in and out of the chimney.
  • Firebox inspection: The firebox is the area of the fireplace where the fire is built, and it should be inspected for cracks or damage that could compromise its safety or performance.


In general, it is recommended to have a professional chimney cleaning and inspection performed at least once a year, especially if you use your fireplace frequently. If you burn wood in your fireplace, it is especially important to have the chimney cleaned annually to remove any creosote buildup. If you burn oil or gas, it is still a good idea to have the chimney inspected annually to ensure that it is in good condition and that there are no blockages or other problems.

No Comments

    Leave a Reply