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Different Kinds of Fireplaces

By: barneygarcia
Although wood is used as a primary heat source in one about two percent of homes today, many homes contain fireplaces. Most fireplaces are chosen for decorative reasons as well as to provide heat. A fireplace can be the central focus in a living room around which everything else is arranged.

A lot of newer homes have gas fireplaces instead of wood burning ones. They are more convenient in terms of starting a fire, as you can just flick a switch to turn them on, and they do not require cleaning on a regular basis, as a wood burning one does. The gas fireplace is often chosen when someone in a family has any kind of respiratory problem, such as asthma. Whether a fireplace is gas or wood, there is nothing quite so cosy on a cold winter's evening as a fire blazing in the fireplace. Some people prefer wood to gas, as they enjoy the crackle of the logs as they burn.

In order to get the most heat from a fireplace, it is important that it is well maintained. The fire pit should be cleaned once or twice a year and more often if it is used regularly. It is a messy job, but fairly easy to do. Just scoop the ashes into a non-porous container, then just sweep up any remaining debris with a small brush. The chimney and flue should be checked regularly for soot and creosote deposits, or obstructions such as birds nests or loose bricks. It is a good idea to have the chimney cleaned every two years or so to make sure it is in good condition. Some people will put a wire mesh cover over the top of the chimney to prevent things from getting into the flue. You can save money by cleaning the chimney yourself but most people will find the job a little too intimidating to do themselves.

The damper should be checked to make sure it closes tightly. If left open when the fireplace is not in use you can lose up to fifteen percent of a home's heat. When the fireplace is in use, make sure the damper is open as it controls the draft and determines how well a fire burns. If the damper is closed while the fire is burning the house will fill with smoke. This will cause smoke damage to furniture and blacken the walls and ceilings.
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