As summer is doing its best at the moment here in South Africa, nearly none of us are thinking about how we’ll be warming up our homes come winter 2021. Surely by now you’ll agree that there’s nothing like grouping around a crackling fire for some interior charm, but does that mean that each and every house, including yours, needs to have a fireplace?
Certainly not, especially when you consider the pros and cons of wood fireplaces…
Yes, they keep you warm when it’s cold, but some households also use their wood fireplaces for cooking, thereby extending the functionality of their kitchen, braai area, etc.
It would seem that many people prefer wood fireplaces over their electric- and gas counterparts simply for the reason that the latter two are no match in terms of enticing scent and charming atmosphere.
If you’re the kind of household that braais and/or camps a lot, then surely your kids have come into contact with fire on more than one occasion. Use these occasions to teach them how to build a fire, maintain one, and (obviously the most important) how to extinguish one from an early age.
Depending on how regularly you use your wood fireplace, you’re going to need to invest (both your time and money) in a steady supply of firewood – and kindling, if your yard doesn’t feature a lot of trees. And of course you’ll also need to have an appropriate storage space for your firewood.
Did you know as much as 80% of a wood fireplace’s heat escapes through the chimney? That means that only about 20% is used to warm up your interiors. Also keep in mind that along with that smoke also come dangerous pollutants that contribute to air pollution, which is why many towns and cities have effectively banned new wood-burning fireplaces.
As if you don’t already have enough things to remember, now your wood-burning fireplace also asks that you keep an eye on your chimney flue. Because if you leave it open, either by accident or on purpose, that can boost the wind drafts around your fireplace, thereby upping your heating bill.
Be prepared to commit to maintenance, especially in winter when you’ll have much more ash to clean off your floor, rug, and other surfaces near your fireplace. And speaking of black soot, remember that you’ll also have to keep your chimney clean, meaning more out-of-pocket costs for you.
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Obviously you need to keep an eye on kids and pets relaxing near your wood fireplace, since those jumping sparks and ash can be a real safety hazard.
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