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Old Smokey's Fireplace & Chimney's Blog

Different Types of Heating Appliances

If you have ever lived in the Northern regions of the United States, you know that having an appliance to heat your home is a necessity. Here in northern Indiana, northern Ohio, or mid-Michigan region especially, temperatures can get well below zero, and living without heat can be hazardous. There are a large number of heating appliances available to homeowners, so it’s important to know the difference between the types. Some heating appliances are better at being a primary heat source than others, while others are better for heating small rooms or being supplementary heating sources. The type of fuel you want to use can also play a large role in the appliance that works best for you. At Old Smokey’s we want to make sure that you pick the right type of heating element for your home. That’s why we want to share with you our guide on the differences in heating appliances that we offer.

Gas Fireplaces, Logs, Inserts & Stoves - Fort Wayne, IN - Old Smokey's

Fuel Type

Choosing the type of fuel that you want to use is a good first step to choosing the type of appliance you’ll want to get. There are three main types that heating appliances use: wood, gas, or pellets. Each one of these fuel types has its advantages depending on your situation.

Wood – Most people enjoy using wood as a fuel because of the aesthetic value that it adds to a home. There is no other fuel type that creates a warm glow, the natural aroma, and soft crackling sounds that a wood fire creates. Also, if you live close to a woodland or don’t mind gathering your own wood, you can heat your home for very cheap. Another benefit of having a wood-burning appliance is that you can use it “off the grid”. Unlike gas or pellet appliances, your fuel source doesn’t need gas lines or electricity to work. If you live in a location prone to winter power outages, wood-burning appliances won’t leave you stuck in the cold.

Gas – Gas is preferred by homeowners who want the ease of use in a heating appliance. Using wood fuel is a lot of work if you are chopping, stacking, and hauling it. Then there is the added work of building and starting a fire. Gas appliances can be started with a push of a button, making them very handy. Also, gas burns a lot cleaner meaning your fireplace and chimney won’t get nearly as messy as it would with wood fuel.

Pellets – Pellets are kind of middle of the road. Wood pellets are little pieces of compressed wood that can be fed into your appliance by a small auger. They will give you the warmth of a wood fire, but since the system is self-feeding, you don’t have to worry about constantly adding logs.

Appliances

Once you have a fuel type picked, you need to choose the type of appliance you would like to use. There are three main types of appliances that we offer at Old Smokey’s: fireplaces, inserts, and stoves. Although all three of these appliances would make a wonderful addition to a home, it really depends on your situation what type is best for you.

Fireplaces – Fireplaces make a wonderful addition to any home. At Old Smokey’s, we offer a wide range of prefabricated fireplaces that can add a touch of warmth and elegance to your home. There are two types of fireplaces that we offer, gas and wood. Prefabricated fireplaces are great because you can place them anywhere in your home that you have access to gas and ventilation. You can also make your fireplace the centerpiece of your home’s decor. There is such a wide variety of materials and accessories available with fireplaces, whether you are looking for a rustic, elegant, or classic design, it’s easy to customize the look that you’ll be happy with. The only downside to a fireplace is that some designs, especially open hearth and gas log designs, don’t offer the heating efficiency of stoves or inserts.

Stoves – Stoves offer a classic look that looks great in most homes. Stoves are designed for efficiency, so if you are looking to get the most bang out of your buck out of your fuel, they are the appliance for you. All the stoves that we offer here at Old Smokey’s offer the highest of energy standards. You’ll stay warm and save money this winter with a new wood, gas, or pellet stove from Old Smokey’s.

Inserts – Inserts are great if you already have an existing fireplace that doesn’t operate well, or doesn’t burn the type of fuel that you would like. An insert is a firebox that is inserted into an already existing fireplace, essentially replacing the firebox. Inserts are very efficient and are designed to push hot air into your living area, instead of up and out of your chimney. An insert can use either wood, gas, or pellets for a fuel source. If you want to change your old open hearth wood fireplace into a high-efficiency appliance that will burn the fuel of your choosing, an insert may be perfect for you.

At Old Smokeys, we want you to be happy with the way you choose to heat your home. If you are in the market for a new heating appliance, we offer a large variety for you to choose from! If you live in northern Indiana, northern Ohio, or mid-Michigan region, you can reach us at 800-876-6539 or 260-424-0009, or schedule an in-home appointment with a heating expert. You can also visit our showroom at 220 W State Street, Ashley, IN 46705 to visit one of our knowledgeable staff. We look forward to helping you and from our home to yours, happy holidays!

What to do if there’s a chimney fire (and why our services can prevent them)

Your fireplace offers you comfort and warmth. However, you must be careful to remember that your fireplace is an appliance and, like any other appliance, it needs proper care and maintenance to operate safely. If your fireplace is not maintained properly it can lead to a number of issues including chimney fires. We here at Old Smokey’s hope that you never have to experience a chimney fire, but we also think that it’s important to know what to do in case of a chimney fire and how you can prevent a chimney fire in the first place.

fire

What causes chimney fires?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), more than 20,000 residential house fires every year can be attributed to a fire that started in the chimney. The most devastating thing about chimney fires is that a majority of them could have been prevented with just a little maintenance and upkeep. In fact, research by the National Fire Protection Association has shown that a majority of chimney fires were caused by chimneys that were not cleaned properly.

If the inside of your chimney is dirty, it is a safety hazard. There are a couple of ways in which a dirty chimney can lead to a chimney fire. First, if your chimney doesn’t have a chimney cap on top of it, debris from trees, blowing leaves, and animal nesting can cause blockages in your chimney. This kind of debris is combustible and can start on fire if it gets hot enough. The other way your chimney can catch on fire is due to creosote. When you burn fuel, chemicals that aren’t burned off are released as byproducts in the form of soot, smoke, and other gases. When these byproducts flow up your chimney, they start to cool and condense on the inside of your chimney walls. This condensation will accumulate into a thick tar-like substance called creosote. Creosote is combustible and when it catches fire, it is very hard to put it out. Creosote fires are considered more dangerous than debris fires because they burn hotter, longer, and don’t extinguish easily.

How do I know if I have a chimney fire?

This is a difficult question to answer because sometimes a chimney fire will be obvious, and other times, you might not know that you even have a chimney fire. Sometimes a fire will not have enough oxygen to produce large flames, but these types of fire can still do a lot of damage to your chimney and home. If a chimney fire is fueled well enough, it can be very noticeable. Signs include: hearing a loud roaring noise by your chimney; ash and debris flying out of the top of your chimney; black smoke coming from your chimney, and popping and cracking noises coming from your chimney. Any one of these are an indicator that you have a chimney fire.

What should I do if my chimney starts on fire?

Preparation is key to reducing the impact a chimney fire will have on your home. Be sure to have a fire alarm installed nearby and check it periodically to make sure that it is working. An alarm will warn you if there is a fire and save you precious time. Also, have a chimney fire extinguisher on hand. These are specially designed extinguishers that send smoke up your chimney, suffocating the fire.

If you have an active fire burning inside of your chimney, you need to get out of your home as quickly as possible and call the fire department. If it is safe to do so, use your chimney fire extinguisher and, if equipped to do so, close any doors or inlets to your fireplace or stove to reduce the amount of oxygen available to your fire before you head outside. Once outside, you have the option to hose down your roof to prevent the fire from spreading to your roof. However, spraying cold water on a hot chimney can cause your masonry to crack.

After your fire is put out, it may or may not look like there has been damage to your chimney. However, no matter what, you need to get your chimney a level 2 inspection by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney technician. Only a CSIA certified chimney technician will be able to determine what damage has been done to your chimney, and what, if anything, needs to be done to get your chimney back to safe operational status.

How can I prevent a chimney fire?

The best way to prevent a chimney fire is through annual chimney sweeps and inspections by a CSIA certified chimney technician. At Old Smokey’s our CSIA certified chimney technicians will make sure that any debris and creosote in your chimney is swept clean, rendering your chimney safe to use for the next year. Annual inspections are by far the best way to prevent chimney fires.

There are some other things you can do to prevent chimney fires. Installing a chimney cap to prevent debris from falling in your chimney and only burning seasoned wood to prevent excess creosote production. Doing these things alone won’t guarantee that you won’t have a fire, but it will help.

At Old Smokey’s your safety is our top priority. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your chimney inspected and cleaned, you could be putting your home at risk. Call us today at 800-876-6539 or 260-424-0009, or schedule an inspection appointment online. We look forward to keeping your home free of chimney fires this fall and winter.

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