How To Use Your Fireplace Safely This Winter
SA Home Owner|June 2020
How To Use Your Fireplace Safely This Winter
Kelebogile Nondzaba shares tips on how to use your fireplace safely this winter
Kelebogile Nondzaba

Owning a fireplace comes with the responsibility of knowing how to use it correctly to prevent any fire hazards in the home, say the experts.

The best time to purchase a fireplace is in summer or autumn, according to David Wantling of macD Firehouse: “This is because you are likely to get a more competitive price and a quicker installation than in the busy winter months.” Monique Peacock of Hydrofire agrees: “There isn’t really a best time to purchase a fireplace, but I would recommend that customers start purchasing early in the year before the big winter rush. This will prevent delays in installation and also give you time to test your fireplace before the cold sets in.”

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING A FIREPLACE

Peacock suggests checking the design and size of the area you would like to heat up followed by your budget. Then the placement of your flues – for example, will the flues run through your roof or will they go through the wall and then run on the outside of your wall? Lastly, do you prefer a cast iron unit or a steel unit and will it be built-in or freestanding? Wantling suggests starting with the nominal (average) heat output or heating capacity of the stove – small being +/-5kw or 60m2, medium being 8kw or +/-100m2, and large being anything above 12kw or 150m2. And then there is the type of stove that you want – freestanding, when you don’t have an existing fireplace or want to place the stove in almost any position in your home; or inbuilt, where you want the stove installed in an existing fireplace. And lastly the style of stove – most manufacturers have both contemporary and classic-styled stoves.

OPEN VS CLOSED COMBUSTION

According to Wantling, “An open fire is a traditional open-fronted or double-sided open fireplace, which is the least efficient fireplace because most of the heat goes up the chimney. It is also the most dangerous because it is open and sparks or embers or coals can fall out, causing a fire, and must not be left burning unattended.” Peacock says, “Traditional open fireplaces are extremely inefficient. They have approximately 25% to 30% efficiency, as compared to closed combustion stoves and fireplaces which are 70% to 80% efficiency. With open fireplaces, the chimney gets too hot and causes the air within it to rise. Along with the smoke extracted through the chimney, open fireplaces suck out a lot of hot air from the room. Besides efficiency, there are numerous other factors such as safety from sparks shooting off etc., which make the closed combustion units a much better choice.”

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June 2020