Gas vs. Oil vs. Wood Burning Chimneys
Chimney Choices For Safety And Economy
Fireplaces are a great source of inexpensive heat. A fireplace can add value to your home and reduce heating costs. A fireplace is great place for a romantic interlude as well as family activities like cooking smores inside.
If you have a fireplace or are considering having a fireplace or indoor fire source installed, you need to consider your chimney. Chimney safety and maintenance are one of the most important things you need to consider if you have an indoor fire for heating. Chimneys that are not properly cleaned and maintained are dangerous because more fires per year than most other fire hazards.
The type of chimney you select, the material the chimney is made from, how the chimney vents smoke to the outside, the costs of heating with a fire, and the safety and maintenance needed for your chimney all depend on the type of fuel you use.
Fire fuels are wood, oil, and gas.
Wood Burning Fireplaces
Wood burning fires are vented to the outside through a chimney. The majority of homes in the United States that have a fireplace use wood. A wood burning chimney has to be cleaned every year to remove the residue that builds up on the inside walls of the chimney. Failure to clean the chimney can result in last year's residue catching on fire.
For safety and to prevent little wood explosions that toss fire onto the floor you need to use wood that has moisture content that is a maximum of 25 percent.
Wood burning can be environmentally unfriendly. If you have an older system you can have a retrofit that recirculates the smoke and gas and releases a minimum of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Oil Burning Fireplaces
Oil burning fires are used by as many people in the United States as wood. Fuel oil for fires is relatively inexpensive and provides even heat.
Just like wood systems, an oil burning system needs to be inspected and cleaned every year to prevent the buildup of materials on the chimney walls that are a fire hazard.
Inserts can be installed and oil systems can be retrofitted to prevent some of the fire hazards and to provide a more environmentally friendly system by recirculating the smoke and gas from the fire so that complete combustion occurs and a minimum of smoke is transmitted to the outside atmosphere.
Gas Burning Fireplaces
Gas burning systems are more aesthetically appealing, usually safer, and provide extra service by allowing the gas that is not used from your gas water heater, gas furnace, and gas stove to be vented to the fireplace, used for fuel, and eventually vented outside. Gas systems usually use propane or natural gas that is delivered by the city or stored in a tank outside the home.
Gas systems need regular maintenance to avoid fire hazards that could be caused by leaks. Your gas system should be inspected every year by a professional to prevent leaks and stop damage to your chimney. You should also have the thermostat that controls the gas system checked each year.
Natural gas is a very clean burning fuel.
Man has been using fire for heat for 200,000 years. Modern fire systems safety and longevity are tied to chimney maintenance and yearly cleaning and inspection.
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