Wood Burning Fireplace – Everything You Need To Know

Harry Hubbard

Last updated Mar 2, 2024
Harry is our fireplace and accessories specialist. Trying out new things is his passion. His recommendation barely fails.

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Owning a wood-burning fireplace will always give you an extra in your interior home decor. A sweet morning breakfast with the flames of the woods or a late night drinks hour with a calm and amusing mood, all these a wood-burning fireplace has to offer.



What Is A Wood Burning Fireplace?



A wood-burning fireplace is a large, ventilated structure that’s designed to contain a fire safely. The form is typically made of heat-resistant materials like brick or stone that can withstand fires. You add wood to the fireplace’s interior, known as the firebox, connected to a hollow flue that leads upwards directly to the chimney. Fresh air enters the firebox through the flue and chimney, while smoke escapes the firebox through the flue and chimney.

Wood-burning fireplaces have been around for centuries. Their eye-catching design allows homeowners and family members to enjoy the benefits of a wood fire inside their home. Instead of sitting around watching the TV, you can gossip with family members or guests in front of your wood-burning fireplace.



Benefits Of Having A Wood Burning Fireplace



Having a wood-burning fireplace at your home not only gives you a classy and fascinating look, but it also enhances your mood, helps you to find peace, and is cost-benefiting as well. Are you wondering about the benefits? Let’s learn some!


1. Amazing Decor


Amazing Decor


Whether you are a stubborn job holder or a chilly entrepreneur, when you own a wood-burning fireplace in your house, it automatically raises your perspectives up to your guests. It helps you to look classy in your choosing power. It is also seen that people become more attracted and focused on someone who owns a wood-burning fireplace in their house. The flames, the environment that it offers, it compliments your decor like no other accessory can!


2. Natural Focal Point

A wood-burning fireplace serves beautifully as a natural focal point. When the family members gather in the living room, the wood-burning fireplace will likely be the center of attention. It offers a traditional and unique focal point that’s not found in other living room accessories. So, want to have a chitchat or share surprising news? A wood-burning fireplace will help you to grab the attention, Sir!


3. Increased Home Value

When you’re willing to sell your home, you will obviously get better offers if it contains a wood-burning fireplace. A survey which was conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says that a wood-burning fireplace increases the value of a house by an average of $1,220. Accordingly, buyers were willing to pay over $2,000 more for a house with a wood-burning fireplace. So still confused about a wood-burning fireplace increasing the value of a home? As you can see here, it offers a variety of aesthetic and functional benefits.


4. Heating During Winter


Heating During Winter


During winter snowstorms, sometimes it is so cold that you need to warm up your home using a geyser or something. Well, you can simply warm your home during winter using a wood-burning fireplace. You can build and maintain a fire that radiates heat throughout your home as long as you have plenty of dry firewood stockpiled. So, you need not worry about getting jammed in winter! Your wood-burning fireplace will save you from extreme cold.


5. Pleasant Aroma

The ambiance of fire is unbeatable, with the crackling logs and woodsy aroma is something coming from heaven. As the firewood burns, it releases unburned particles that manifest as an aroma. Different species of wood produce different pleasing and distinct aromas. For example, Cherry firewood has a mildly fruity and sweet aroma, whereas hickory firewood has a heartier and richer aroma. Regardless, building fires with high-quality firewood is going to produce a pleasant aroma that everyone will appreciate.


6. Natural Lighting

It is a unique benefit that a wood-burning fireplace produces natural light. Rather than using traditional lightings, such as an overhead fixture or free-standing lamp, you can use your wood-burning fireplace. As the wood burns, producing heat and light, the flame is mighty! You can use it to illuminate your home during the evenings beautifully. For example, if you’re watching a movie, a fire can offer enough light, and you and your friends and family can comfortably see without creating a blinding glare on the screen.


7. Multi Task During Power Outages

If you live in a region with occasional power outages throughout the winter, or usual power cut-offs in the winter, you know how valuable a heat source that is 100% self-contained can be. With a dependable wood stove, you’ll stay warm around the clock, regardless of your home’s supply of gas or electricity. Also, when the power goes out, you can use the fireplace as heating and lighting tools. Also, with some adjustment and replacement, it can work fabulously as a medium of cooking!


8. Environment Friendly

You will be assured to know that wood-burning fireplaces are environmentally friendly. Whether it’s hickory, oak, cherry, or any other species, wood is a renewable and sustainable resource. The trees are processed into woods and new seeds are planted in their wake. Many species of hardwoods reach maturity in just 20 to 30 years. It’s a sustainable practice that makes wood-burning fireplaces environmentally friendly


9. Energy Independence

A wood-burning fireplace provides an opportunity to be less dependent upon utility companies. You can take responsibility for your own fuel source, including how much you pay, due to various options regarding where and how to obtain firewood. If you own a lot of heavily wooded property, you may even have an endless supply of free firewood.


10. Low Maintenance

Some people assume that wood-burning fireplaces require a lot of work and time to maintain, but this isn’t necessarily true. The fireplace is very low maintenance, as you only have to look after the logs and debris. It doesn’t kill much of your time and money as well! Just some easy measures to operate and take care of it, and that’s it!


11. Easy To Afford

You’ll be surprised to know that a wood-burning fireplace costs less to operate besides all these benefits. You need not worry about the gas prices or additional requirements of having a fireplace. You just need some woods that you can find in your ancient garden, and you’re ready to go! Definitely, you’ll spend less money using a wood-burning fireplace than you would be using a gas fireplace.



How A Wood Burning Fireplace Works



This is very important to know how a wood-burning fireplace works. If you get to know about how it works, then you’ll be able to identify and operate it smoothly!


1. Various Components Of A Fireplace

There are some components of a wood-burning fireplace, which helps it to work. We need to learn about those components first. The components are:

  1. The hearth is built out of brick or a fireproof material like brick and extends beyond the fireplace.
  2. The surround of the fireplace protects the walls and nearby places. It is often topped by a decorative mantel, which is perfect for holding family pictures or hanging Christmas stockings.
  3. The interior of the fireplace, the firebox, contains the fire, collects, and emits the smoke.
  4. The smoke and gases travel for an exit through the flue, which is the top’s passageway. Flues are usually made of baked clay, but can also be stainless steel.
  5. The chimney surrounds the flue and keeps its heat from contacting any flammable materials that may have been used at home.
  6. The smoke chamber works like a bridge and connects the fireplace and the flue.
  7. The smoke shelf is at the last part of the smoke chamber, which deflects downdrafts and protects any soot or rain from dropping into the fireplace.
  8. Under the smoke shelf is the damper, which is a movable covering that separates the firebox from the space above. It prevents cold air from entering into the house when no fire is burning. Most of the chimneys may also have a chimney damper operated by a cable. It closes the chimney at the top to eradicate downdrafts.
  9. A metal mesh that fits over the upper part of the flue is the spark arrester, which protects the exiting gases from entering with burning substances onto the roof.
  10. A chimney cap prevents moisture animals and moistures from entering the flue. It may also rotate to block wind gusts.
  11. Some of the fireplaces are equipped with an ash dump, which opens with a trap door where you can put the collected ashes into a pit for cleanout later.
  12. Fireplace doors can be made of metal or glass. They shut off the airflow when the fire has died down, or the fireplace is not in use.


2. How Do Those Components Work

The components, as mentioned above, need to work together to run a wood-burning fireplace. Now let’s run about how the components of a wood-burning fireplace work together:

  1. First of all, to light the fire, the damper is opened in order to allow combustion gases and smoke to exit.
  2. When the fire is lit, the extremely hot combustion gases start to rise up the chimney by convection. Accordingly, the fire draws air for combustion from home.
  3. As the flame starts to stabilize, the hot and deadly combustion gases continue to be drawn up and draw fresh air in for combustion simultaneously out of the top of the chimney.
  4. Once the fire puts off, and the ashes are completely cold, the damper is closed to avoid unwanted loss of heat from home.
  5. The ashes then can be cleaned from the firebox or delivered to the ash dump through a door on the floor of a wood-burning fireplace.



How To Prepare A Fireplace For Wood-Burning



Well, there are some easy to understand steps on how you should prepare your beautiful fireplace for wood burning so that it can give you the ultimate pleasures and advantages of having a wood-burning fireplace. Let’s look through it:

  1. Contact any professional chimney sweep to clean out any soot and creosote that might be built up again.
  2. Inspect the damper of the fireplace to make sure that it opens and closes smoothly and efficiently.
  3. Check the mortar around if there are any bricks in the chimney or look for cracks. These can lead to dangerous fires if not fixed in time. You have to bring in a professional if you find severe damage in the mortar or the bricks.
  4. Check the chimney for bird nests, birds, or other rodents. Install a screen/cap at the top that will keep them going forward.
  5. Make sure that you have enough wood for your regular usage and always keep plus about 20 percent so that if you suddenly face an extra-cold winter, you’ll be ready for it.
  6. Clean the exhaust chimney before your first usage and throughout the year continually. You need to ensure that all soot, ash, and creosote are removed regularly.
  7. Remove any flammable things from anywhere in front of the fireplace.

Now, after you’ve made the fireplace ready for making a fire, you need to know how to start a fire and make the woods burn!

  1. To start the fire, you need kindling, which is to bring smaller pieces of wood that will take the flame of the fire quickly. Stack a few split logs on the grate and place kindling below and around them.
  2. Ensure the damper is open before you light the kindling with any paper. Never use too much paper because flaming scraps can be carried up the flue with the paper and onto your roof also. Never use lighter fluid, gasoline, or a butane torch to start a fire in the fireplace.
  3. Once the fire is burning, sometimes you might still face problems with smoke entering the room. If there aren’t enough openings to clear for the air drawn up the chimney, it can negatively pressure the room, which creates a partial vacuum. The air pressure forces air down the chimney to compensate, which results in a smoky house. The solution is to crack or open a window near the fireplace to let air in, and you get your fantastic fire without any smoke!

So, these steps will help you to prepare your fireplace in making a fire and having the mighty fire burning the woods, that too-without any smoke! You are now absolutely ready to run your wood-burning fireplace! Cheers!



How You Should Use A Wood Burning Fireplace Properly (Step By Step Guide)



This is the most crucial part of maintaining a wood-burning fireplace. Now you will learn about how you should use your wood-burning fireplace properly so that it gives you a hundred percent efficiency!


1. Check Chimney For Cracks

Before burning the first fire of a season, check the chimney structure for loose bricks, cracks, or missing mortar. You also need to check your chimney liner for signs of loss. Spalling and cracks on the chimney exterior indicate chimney deterioration, so check your chimney crown or have a professional take a look.


2. Cap It

Try to use a wire-mesh cap to cover the top of your chimney to keep squirrels, birds, rain, and other debris from entering into it. You surely don’t want to find some deceased animals coming down the flue.


3. Check The Damper

Open the chimney damper before every use, and close it after every use. The open chimney damper allows smoke to get away from your chimney when you burn the wood. When the woods are not burning, keeping the damper closed prevents warm air from escaping.


4. Check For Creosote Buildup

Select the wood you want to use in the fireplace. Always use wood that has been seasoned for at least six months; otherwise, it will be wet to burn properly. Don’t burn pine in your fireplace as it causes creosote buildup, thus puts your home at risk for chimney fires. Try to select a mixture of both hardwoods and softwoods.


5. Trim Limbs

Make sure no overhanging tree limbs are encroaching on your chimney. They can present a fire hazard and also restrict proper draft airflow in your fireplace.

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6. Fire Up!

Line the bottom of the fireplace grate with softwood, and then stack the hardwood on top. Firstly, place fire-starter logs beneath the grate, and light them with a match or a lighter. These logs ignite the softwoods, which ignite the hardwoods in turn and burn longer.


7. Feed The Fire!

Always feed the fire by adding hardwood logs at regular intervals, depending on how massive your fire is and how long you want the fire to burn. Usually, you get more heat out of a small fire with plenty of air circulation.


8. Use The Coals

Keep the coals underneath the grate lit by stirring then with a fire poker because they are covered with grey ash. Those hot coals keep the fire burning. Put the fire out, always cover the hot coals with ashes using a fireplace shovel, and let the wood in the grate burn itself out.


9. Clean Out The Ashes

Remove the ashes with the fireplace shovel and discard them in a metal can when they are completely cool. Close the damper, and place a fireplace shield in front of the fireplace to keep warm air from escaping up the chimney. Just vacuum or sweep the cold ashes and dispose of them outside. You might want to keep a few ashes around to help you build a fire in the fireplace. Keep in mind that coals can remain hot for up to three days, becoming a fire hazard if they contact flammable materials.



Things To Consider Before Using Wood Burning Fireplace



Well, these are only the usage of a wood-burning fireplace. Wait a bit… As you’re always willing to get an extra edge over others, you need to learn about stuff that will help you use your wood-burning fireplace properly!


1. Fireplace Guard

If you want to prevent hot embers from getting out of the fireplace, use a glass fireplace doors or metal-mesh screens. Never burn wood in your fireplace without a guard.


2. Check Alarms

Before starting a fire, ensure all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and alarms are working correctly.


3. Test Function

Test your fireplace’s function first by lighting a few small pieces of seasoned wood. Light the wood from the top down. If the smoke doesn’t exit vertically from your fireplace into the chimney and instead enters your room, always troubleshoot to correct any problems. This will be an easy key to help you understand how to work a fireplace.


4. Choose The Right Wood

Try to choose dense wood like oak. Woods should be split and stored in a dry and high place for at least six months. Green woods like pine, are not recommended for a wood-burning fireplace since they can produce more creosote.


5. Keep The Fire Small

Small fireplace fires generate comparatively less smoke and create less creosote buildup in the chimney. While building a fire, put the logs toward the rear of the wood-burning fireplace and make sure to use kindling. Don’t use any flammable liquids to start the fire.


6. Circulate The Air

To get the most satisfaction out of the fire, try to run ceiling fans clockwise on low speeds to redirect the warm air from the ceiling into the living space.



Safety Measures For A Wood Burning Fireplace



Safety should be the most essential concern of anyone. Remember how we talked about getting all the privileges of having a wood-burning fireplace. Well, all those will be in vain if you do not take enough safety measures. Don’t panic! We are right here to help you. Just follow these measures correctly, and none can stop you from getting the benefits!


Safety Measures For A Wood Burning Fireplace


  1. Always use necessary fireplace tools when adjusting the fire, and never move the logs with your hand. Safety gloves should be worn when adjusting hot doors or screens to prevent burns. A non-flammable rug in front of the fireplace will protect your carpet or wood floors from any flames and sparks that could escape when someone is tending the fire.
  2. Always keep a window cracked open while the fire is burning. Be sure the flue or damper is open before starting a fire. Keeping the flue or damper open until the fire is out, drawing smoke out of your home. You can check the damper by looking up into the chimney with a mirror or a flashlight. Stop closing the damper until the embers have completely stopped burning.
  3. During the burning season, scoop out the ash with a shovel from the firebox periodically. A little bit of ash can act as insulation, so let an inch or so remain in the fireplace throughout the burning season. Don’t let it build up too much, though — you should always maintain 2 to 3 inches of open air space below your grate. Never use brick mortar inside a firebox.
  4. Always use dry and well-aged wood. Wet or green wood causes comparatively more smoke and contributes to soot buildup in the chimney. On the other hand, dried wood burns more evenly with less smoke. Smaller pieces of wood placed on a rub produce less smoke and burn faster.
  5. The chimney needs to be checked annually by a professional sweep. Even if you think that the chimney is not asking for cleaning, it is vital to check for blockages that could prevent smoke from escaping.
  6. Always try to build the fire properly. Place the fireplace grate 3” from the back of the firebox and ensure that you have 3” of clearance on each side of the grate as well to get the best airflow as possible. If your grate does not meet these clearances, it is too big for your firebox.
  7. Clean out ashes from previous fires. Levels of ash at the fireplace base should be kept to one inch or less because a thicker layer restricts air supply to logs, which results in more smoke.
  8. Make sure the area near your fireplace is clear of anything that is potentially flammable (i.e., drapes, furniture, newspapers, books, etc.). If these flammable items get too close to the fireplace, they can catch fire.
  9. Install both carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Test them regularly in a month and change the batteries at least once a year. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand. Keep those items out of reach of the children.
  10. Never leave a fire in your fireplace unattended. If you leave the room while the fire is burning or the fireplace is still hot, take your small child with you.






A wood-burning fireplace gives you a lot of benefits, but you need to take care of them. Reading out the article, you have learned everything about a wood-burning fireplace, from its actual meaning to how you can get ultimate satisfaction from it. Now, this is your job to look after your fireplace like your small baby. Remember, if you treat a wood-burning fireplace like any other ignorable accessory in your home, you won’t be able to enjoy any of its beauty. So gear yourself up and go check out your fireplace, right now!

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