Friday, November 30, 2012

What are Fireplace Andirons

If you've been looking at accessories for your fireplace you have probably come across fireplace andirons. Most andirons are made in a way that they look very nice and decorative, but they are more than just a pretty addition to your fireplace.

Andirons are for holding logs in the fireplace so that they do not roll out into the floor; they also keep the logs lifted so that air can get around the logs and help to feed the fire in your fireplace.

Most people have replaced the andiron with a fireplace grate. When holding smaller pieces of wood the grate is preferred as it has more surface area for the wood to rest upon. But some people prefer andirons, since they allow the fire to be closer to the bottom of the fireplace, in a smaller fireplace this is sometimes necessary.

Andirons are considered by most to be prettier in a fireplace than a grate. Andirons began to be made in a more decorative manner during the Italian Renaissance.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wood Stove Smoking into Room

Are you noticing smoke inside your home when the stove is burning or when you've opened the door to load additional wood.

Here are the things you need to check:
  • Chimney Cap: these can become clogged, most chimney caps have spark screens and cold, wet, damp weather can cause the screen to attract more embers than it should and it will then clog up.
    -Issues that can add to the clogging of the chimney cap include: wet wood, small fires, and damping down the stove too early. But this is an easy solution. Clean your chimney cap and the smoke should go out.
  • Draft: if the issue is not with the chimney cap, then you may not have a good draft. This could be due to the flue being cold. Some recommend to "pre-heat" the flue prior to lighting the fire.
  • Dirty Chimney: This can cause decreased room for the smoke to exhaust. Keeping your wood stove and chimney clean and properly maintenance will help to prevent this. You should clean your wood stove and chimney a minimum of once a year, but it is recommended to have your chimney cleaned for every 2 cords of wood that are burned through your wood stove.

Edit we have had a tip added in a comment on this pin on Pinterest:
Quote from Aaron J. on Pinterest: "Great advice, one other thing that might cause back smoke is an incorrectly sized chimney liner or a cracked liner."

Thanks for the tip Aaron!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fireplace Cleaning

It is the time of the year to be using your fireplace, before you start using it you will want to be sure that your fireplace is clean. Ideally, you should clean your fireplace in the summer when you won't be using it for some time, but if it has not been cleaned, then there is a risk of having creosote or soot cause a fire.

Now you will want to be sure that all the ash has cooled before you go about cleaning your fireplace. 

To remove the ashes you can use fireplace tools such as shovels, brooms, ash rakes, etc. 

Once the ashes have been removed you will need to take out grates, andirons, fire-backs, etc. I recommend taking these to the yard to clean with a wire brush, then you can use a specialized polish on them to restore them to look practically new. Now is also a good time to clean your fireplace accessories.

You will want to use a wire brush to remove any build up of creosote and tare on the damper and lower part of the chimney. Shovel or vacuum this debris out of the fire box.

To clean the firebox you can use solvents created for cleaning fireplaces, you can also use washing soda, vinegar, or TSP with warm water. Use a stiff bristled brush on the inside of the firebox once your cleaning solvent of choice has had time to soak.

If using hot water & vinegar or hot water & washing soda you will want to scrub the liquid into the firebox and let it soak for about 20 minutes or so. Come back and scrub your firebox and fireplace with a generous application of this cleaning liquid.

Once your fireplace is clean you will want to rinse it off with warm water. Let your firebox air out and dry. Close your damper to prevent the fireplace from sucking air out of your home. But be sure to open it before starting a fire.

You will probably want to go ahead and clean your chimney at this time, also suggested reading: Chimney & Fireplace Tips

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

History of the Fireplace

Fireplaces have been around since the invention of fire. They were originally found in caves, but with no chimneys or ventilation. Evidence of man-made prehistoric fires exist on all five continents.

Fireplace grates came into play around 1678 when Prince Rupert raised the grate of the fireplace which improved the airflow and venting system.

The fireplace as we think of it today really came about during the Victorian Era. The main design of the fireplace really hasn't changed that much since those times, they consist of two main elements: the surround and the insert.

There are many accessories for fireplaces today; grates, fire screens which originated as a form of furniture that was a shield between people and the fireplace. Fire screens help protect the room from open flames and flying embers. Andirons hold up the fire wood so that air can more easily pass around it, the Italian Renaissance saw the andiron go from plain to more decorative works of art.  The fireback was first seen in the 1500s, these tools help to hold the heat and project it back into the room instead of allowing it to be lost up the chimney. Fire irons or fire pokers have been used with fires since the paleolithic period, these allow you to stir up the fire. Bellows help to get a fire started by give blasts of air to feed the fire. These are just a sampling of the tools and accessories that can be used with a fireplace.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kerosene Heater Safety Tips

When using heating such as kerosene heaters, it is always a good idea to follow safety tips to ensure that you and your family stay as safe as possible. We've gathered some information for you on using kerosene heaters more safely.

It has been found that the majority of heating related fires are caused by kerosene heaters. In these cases it was found that more often the fire was caused by misuse or abuse of the kerosene heater rather than a problem with the heater itself. The first thing you should do with any type of back up heating options, such as kerosene heaters is to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

To choose a kerosene heater you should keep these things in mind:
Be sure the heater that you purchase has a UL (underwriters laboratory) listing.
Choose a heater that has an automatic safety switch that switches the heater off automatically if there is an event in which the heater gets tipped over.
Some special features that are handy: An automatic starter that will eliminate the need for matches, a fuel gauge to help ensure you do not overfill the heater as overfilling can be dangerous, a safety grill to help prevent contact burns.

Be sure that you have a smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

Always take care of your wick and know how to change your kerosene heater wick.

When refueling your heater, you need to wait until your heater has cooled and refill it outside. If you refill a heater when it is hot or still burning it can start a fire. Use only crystal-clear k1 kerosene in your kerosene heater.

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