However, many people are uncertain as to how to make the most of their open fire, choosing to block it off, or remove the entire fireplace altogether. If you are fortunate enough to have an open fireplace, here are a few things that you can do to make the most of your feature.
Ensure your chimney is cleaned
Ideally you should have your chimney cleaned twice a year when you have an open fire in use. Soot and ash can build up in the chimney, minimizing the draft effect and therefore the amount of heat produced.
As well as that objects such as birds nests can drop down the chimney, creating a fire hazard. A professional chimney sweep can clean a chimney with minimum disturbance to your home life and it will make all the difference. You should also stay alert to any birds nesting around your chimney.
Install a proper grate
The type of grate you choose will make a very big difference to the performance of your open fire. Install a grate that provides plenty of draught control. You should be able to provide plenty of air to the fire when you are starting it and then shut some of the air off so it burns more slowly and efficiently once lit. This will help you to control how much heat is emitted and how much wood you burn.
Your open fire should also have a proper fireback that will reflect heat back out into the room, rather than having it disappear up the chimney.
Choose good quality firewood
Good quality firewood burns better and safer than poor quality or unsuitable wood. Hard woods cost slightly more than soft woods, but will burn hotter for longer. Hard wood burns down to hot coals that provide a gentle heat for a long time.
You should ensure that your firewood has also been properly seasoned. This means that it should have a moisture content of below 20%, otherwise you won’t have nearly as much heat. Kiln dried wood is perfect as it guarantees a low moisture content.
You should also buy good quality firewood to ensure that there is low chance of it spitting. When firewood spits it can send out dangerous sparks that can injure passing family members or pets, or cause a house fire.
Some people choose not to use their open fire due to safety concerns. However, these can be addressed with a little common sense and precautions. Purchase a spark guard that completely covers the opening to your fire. This will prevent sparks from going out into the room.
If you have pets or young children, or young children are likely to visit, then by a safety guard that prevents them from getting too close.
Do not light the fire if you are heading out and do not leave it until it is very low and smouldering.
An open fire is a wonderful asset in a home, especially if you make the most of it.
Written by Izzy Crouch, from Old Mill Wood Yard, selling firewood in Swansea.