Common Chimney and Fireplace Myths Debunked

At Stamford Fireplaces, we’ve heard it all when it comes to fireplaces and chimneys:

So, for our latest blog, we play Mythbusters as we look at some common misconceptions and the truths behind them.

MYTH: Pine and other soft woods create excess creosote

FACT: It’s about the condition of the wood and how it’s burned

It’s one of the oldest fireplace myths out there. But first, a quick refresher on creosote:

  • When wood is burned, by-products like gas, smoke, and unburned particles are created. These by-products escape via the chimney. Anything that doesn’t get out cools down and sticks to the chimney walls. That’s creosote.

As for the myth, it’s not the type of firewood that gets burned; rather it’s the condition of the wood as it enters the fireplace.

Fires that burn at lower temperatures are the cause of excess creosote. To reduce this, make certain your firewood is dry and properly seasoned.

In short, the hotter firewood burns, the less creosote is created.

MYTH: I rarely use my chimney; it doesn’t need cleaning

FACT: Besides fireplace usage, there are other reasons for regular cleaning and inspections

On the surface, this myth makes sense. If you don’t use your chimney often, it doesn’t need to annual cleaning or inspections, right?

Not so fast.

There are other elements which can negatively impact your chimney’s safety and performance, such as:

  • Foundational cracks.
  • Worn out masonry or liners.
  • Animal nests or activity.
  • Trapped water.

What all those factors have in common is they have nothing to do with the actual fireplace. Your chimney is constantly exposed to time, age, and weather; fires of not.

Therefore, your best bet to keep your chimney safe and functional is to schedule inspection and chimney sweeping services.

Of course, it’s even more important when you actually use your fireplace on a regular basis.

MYTH: Fireplaces make a room cooler, not hotter

FACT: This is true…but there’s a catch

Here’s how this myth came to be:

  • Some fireplace heat goes up the chimney and not into the room.
  • Wood needs oxygen to burn which draws warm air out of a room.

However, there are ways to combat this myth.

Installing a new, energy-efficient wood fireplace, gas fireplace, or fireplace insert also helps retain heat.

MYTH: Gas fireplaces are more inefficient than wood fireplaces

FACT: This is highly unlikely

The only way a wood fireplace is more efficient than gas is if you live in a forest with an unlimited supply of free and readily available fuel.

So, yes; If you’re surrounded by trees you can cut down anytime, wood is more efficient.

While gas and wood fireplaces each have their pros, when it comes to fuel efficiency, gas is clearly superior:

  • Gas fireplaces: Up to 99% efficiency rating.
  • Wood fireplaces: Approximately 25% efficiency rating.

Something else to consider: Most homes already have a natural gas connection in place. Even without a chimney, it’s much easier (and efficient) to install a direct vent gas fireplace vs. wood.

MYTH: It’s easy to clean your own chimney

FACT: Only to a point

Instructional videos on the Internet and tools from your local hardware store can only partially help you clean your chimney.

But in order to ensure it’s done properly, you need a professional. Otherwise, you risk:

  • Flooding the firebox with soot and dust (and making a terrible mess).
  • Leaving dangerous creosote deposits.
  • Injuring yourself.
  • Damaging your chimney or fireplace.
  • Voiding your home insurance.

Your best (and safest) bet is to use an experienced chimney sweep to get the job done.

INDISPUTABLE FACT: Stamford Fireplaces is Niagara Falls’ best source for fireplace purchases, installations, and service

For over 40 years, Stamford Fireplaces has provided the top brands – and helpful education – to homeowners throughout our service area via our design centre.

If you’re in the market for a new fireplace – or have questions about things like delivery and installation, please contact us today.

We’ll get back quickly with the answers and information you need.