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Old Smokey's Fireplace & Chimney's Blog

Fireplace Safety for Your Family

The new year is right around the corner and it’s that time of year for setting goals for the next coming year. One goal that you should always try to achieve is to have another year of safe fireplace use. This is also the perfect time of year to go over the rules of safe fireplace use with your family.

Who is allowed to operate the fireplace?

Everyone in your family should be able to enjoy your home’s fireplace. However, this doesn’t mean everyone should be allowed to operate your fireplace. Fireplaces are an appliance and should never be treated as a place for children use or play in. Only adults who know how to operate a fireplace should be allowed to start a fire. Explain to children that there are dangers associated with trying to start a fire and they should never try to start a fire on their own.

Know the hot spots

Gas fireplaces are becoming a common fixture in many homes. The firebox for gas fireplaces is enclosed with a glass front. This glass front can get very hot and can cause burn injuries if touched. It is important that everyone in the home knows that they should not touch fireplace glass. If there are toddlers in the home, be sure that there is a toddler gate around the fireplace.

Know what’s okay to burn

There are a variety of different fuels that you can use in your fireplace. It is important that everyone in your household knows that it is only okay to put the correct type of fuel in the fireplace and nothing else. Sometimes children (and adults) think it is fun to throw things like paper or cardboard in the fire to watch it burn. However, putting things that do not belong in a fireplace can be dangerous. For example, paper embers are lightweight and can easily float up your chimney igniting creosote or even floating out of your home and landing on your roof or lawn.

Never leave a fireplace unattended

Once you are done using your fireplace for the day, make sure the fire is extinguished before leaving it. Even glowing embers can shift or snap causing sparks to fly into your home. Make sure that everyone in your family knows this rule and try to have two people check that the fire is completely out before you leave the room.

Remember that another important thing you can do to keep your family safe is to have your chimney inspected annually by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)  certified chimney technician. We here at Old Smokey’s believe that fire safety should be a family affair. If you want more tips on how to keep your family safe this winter or want to schedule an inspection, don’t hesitate to contact Old Smokey’s at 800-876-6539 or visit our scheduling webpage to set up an appointment.

Wood, Gas, or Pellet – Which One is Right for Me?

Wood, Pellet, & Gas Stoves - Fort Wayne IN - Old Smokey's Fireplace & ChimneyAs you make the decision of what type of fireplace you want, take your needs and your own capacities for fueling into consideration. Sometimes a backyard fire pit or open-hearth barbecue can satiate your desire. Especially during brisk fall or winter nights, the allure of dancing flames, a chorus of crackling sounds and a nice woodsy aroma are all that are needed to bring back fond family memories and/or build new ones. However, whether indoors or out, there are some practical advantages and drawbacks to wood-, pellet- and gas-fueled fireplaces. Keep reading to determine which is right for you!


The main advantage to a wood-burning fireplace or an outdoor fire pit is the ambiance it creates. Since wood is the original renewable fuel, all the positives that go with a green/conservationist perspective come into play for some homebuyers. And with advanced fireplace technology, you can reduce gas emissions, increase the circulation of heat in indoor versions, or help warm both family members and guests alike on those colder evenings.

The disadvantages to a wood-burning fireplace are fairly straightforward. A certain degree of vigilance is always needed to keep the embers safely where they belong. Cleaning up ashes and soot is an uninspiring pastime, and it’s even less enjoyable when accidental spills spread the mess. Then there is the annual need to keep the chimney clear and clean, not to mention the annual task of finding the fuel—either chopping wood or paying for it to be delivered. Additional hassles can surface if there are problems starting the fire or keeping it going. There is also some evidence to indicate that particles generated from wood burning can be harmful to one’s health as well as the environment.


The main advantage of gas fireplaces for some homeowners is how easy they are to turn on and off. Instead of matches, newspaper, kindling, and close attention, starting many of these units can be as simple as flipping a switch. Cleanup? Ha! Nor is there a need to religiously tend to the fire. Most gas fireplaces have non-burning displays that resemble wood logs, and burners that conserve fuel by getting the most visual appeal through well-designed flame spreaders.

For many people, the main disadvantage of a gas fireplace is that there is no roaring fire, wood smell or crackling of a dancing flame. For environmentalists, gas fireplaces deplete a non-renewable resource. While it’s not necessary to carry logs to an outdoor gas fire pit, the gas tank must be refilled (or possibly a gas line run to the unit from a larger, stationary tank).


The main advantage of pellet stoves is the fact that they’re more convenient to operate and have much higher combustion and heating efficiencies than ordinary wood stoves and/or fireplaces. A benefit of this: they produce very little in the way of air pollution. In fact, pellet stoves are the cleanest solid fuel burning residential heating appliances; with combustion efficiencies ranging from 78-85%, they are exempt from the EPA’s smoke-emission testing requirements. Their heating capacities can range anywhere between 8,000 and 90,000 Btu per hour, making them suitable for homes, apartments and condominiums.

The main disadvantage of pellet stoves (if you can call it a disadvantage) is their relative newness to the market in comparison to their gas- and wood-fired counterparts. Operator error accounts for more service calls than equipment failure. It’s very important to follow the manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions, which can reduce the likelihood of damage to the appliance (e.g. most manufacturers recommend removing unused pellets from the stove at the end of the heating season). This can minimize difficulties in lighting the appliance at the start of subsequent heating seasons. Having the flue vent cleaned and inspected on a regular basis is another recommendation to prevent soot from building up.

Whether gas, pellet or wood burning, each option remains an attractive amenity to a considerable proportion of many homeowners. This is an area where, as always, you are encouraged to seek the assistance of an experienced professional. If you are considering a home remodel, be sure to weigh the long-term advantages and disadvantages to your choice as well. No matter which one you decide on, look forward to the addition of a fireplace to your home. Quality time spent around a roaring fire is usually the stuff of which long lasting memories are made. Give us a call at 800-876-6539 to speak with a team member or to request an appointment. We look forward to helping you keep your family and your home protected and warm for the long haul!

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