Wood Fireplace

5 Safety Tips for Wood Stove Owners

Wood Stove Installation in Fulton, MDGetting a long and efficient life out of your wood stove and keeping your home and family safe when using it are important to every wood stove owner. Here are five operational and safety tips to follow for the best experience with your wood stove.

  1. The wood your burn in your stove

Modern heating stoves are high heat producers and are designed to burn more efficiently than wood stoves of the past. You can contribute to your stove’s efficiency and heat generation by burning the right wood in the right way.


First, use only seasoned (dry) wood for your fire. Damp wood is harder to get started and keep burning, and it produces far more smoke than dry wood.

Hardwoods such as elm, maple, beech, oak and ash will produce longer, hotter fires than fir, red pine, cedar and other softwoods. Choose your firewood based on the length and intensity of the fire you want. Remember that because of their density, hardwoods take longer to dry, so keep that in mind when purchasing or chopping your wood.

  1. Wood stove maintenance

For safety reasons, it’s important to clean out your wood stove’s firebox periodically. You’ll want to remove ashes and wood chips, then use a wire brush or similar apparatus to scrape soot and creosote from the stove’s inner surfaces. Excess creosote inside your stove can become a fire hazard, so keep it clean.

  1. Cleaning the vent pipe

Wood Stove for sale in Poolesville, MDMore of a concern than built-up creosote inside your stove is the creosote that builds up inside the vent pipe, which you can’t see. Creosote forms when smoke is burned and can be flakey, sticky or hard within your flue pipe.WFD

The best way to deal with cleaning your stove’s vent system is to let a professional do it. Certified chimney sweeps have the tools and expertise to safely remove creosote, soot and other debris from stove pipes. They also can perform system-wide inspections to check for structural damage, venting/drafting issues and worn components. Chimney sweeps are best known for cleaning fireplace chimneys, but they also service vent systems for all supplemental heating appliances.

  1. How not to start a fire

Using non-approved items to get your fire started can result in dangerous stove operation and also can void certain free-standing heating stove warranties. Never use these items to start a fire:

  • Accelerants such as gasoline, charcoal starter or lighter fluid
  • Charcoal
  • Painted or treated wood
  • Clothing or any kind of fabric
  • Magazines
  • Christmas trees
  • Road flares
  • Household trash
  1. Smoke and CO monitors

Whenever you have a stove or fireplace in your home, you also should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) monitors. You already know the reason for smoke detectors. CO monitors check the air for carbon monoxide, which is critically important because this gas is invisible, odorless and potentially fatal to humans and pets. Set up your smoke and CO detectors according to manufacturer’s instructions or the advice of your chimney sweep.

These are five important tips for running your wood-burning heating stove safely and efficiently. When you schedule regular cleaning and inspections from a CSIA-certified chimney sweep, you’ll learn a lot more about getting the most out of your wood stove and keeping your home and family safe.

If it’s time for a good cleaning and stove inspection, High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is ready to get to work. We offer the very best in chimney sweep services, stove/fireplace maintenance and all levels of stove and fireplace repair. Call us today at (301) 519-3500.


9 Things You Should Know When Burning Wood

Beautiful Wood Burning Fireplace In Fulton, MDNothing beats a wood fire in the fireplace on a cold winter’s night. Or a cool autumn day. Or anytime, really. There’s something special and nostalgic about burning, crackling logs that you just can’t get any other way. If you love your wood fires, here are nine things to know when burning wood.

 Dry vs. wet wood

Seasoned (dry) wood burns better and produces less smoke than wood that hasn’t had time to dry out. Excess smoke means excess creosote in your chimney, and sluggish burns mean an inefficient fire.

Fires need air

For a fire to burn at max capacity, air is needed. Reasons for not enough air getting to your log stack include:
• house is air-tight – crack a window
• damper is not fully open to generate a draft – open the damper
• logs are stacked too close together – remove a few logs so the pile can breathe
• flue has obstructions – have them removed

 Keep the flue clean

Regular chimney sweep services by a CSIA-certified technician are important to keep excess flammable creosote from building up in the flue. Chimney cleaning also removes debris, animal nests and other unwanted items, which allows for more efficient drafting.

 Hardwoods vs. softwoods

Wood Burning Fireplace in Poolesville, MDHardwoods such as alder, beech, hickory and maple are denser and burn longer and hotter than softwoods like cedar, juniper, pine and redwood. If you want a shorter, less-intense fire, go with softwoods. For longer-lasting, heat-heavy fires, hardwoods are ideal.

Light from the top

The best way to build a fire in a fireplace or stove is to start the burn with tinder and kindling on top of the log stack. The wood will burn better this way and reach its optimal temperature faster.

The best tinder and kindling for wood fires

Crumpled-up newspaper (not colored print), small twigs and pine needles make excellent tinder. For kindling, you want to use heavier material like larger twigs, branch pieces and wood slivers up to about an inch thick.

What not to use when starting a wood fire

Aside from newspaper tinder, never use non-wood-based items to start a fire. This includes any type of accelerant (lighter fluid, charcoal starter, gasoline) as well as household trash, lacquered/painted wood, magazines, cardboard boxes and clothing.

Don’t overload the firebox

If you pack too many logs in the firebox, the fire will burn too intensely and may cause a chimney fire. Follow the recommendations of your fireplace manufacturer or the advice of a chimney services professional in determining how many logs to use for your fire.

Keep the hearth area clear

Don’t set furnishings or rugs too close to the firebox, and use a fire screen or glass doors to keep popping embers from jumping out of the fireplace. Small children should never be left unattended in a room where a fire is burning.
High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, wants everyone to enjoy their fireplaces in safety. We hope these wood-burning tips have helped. When it’s time for a thorough chimney cleaning to make your fireplace experience even safer, count on our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to do the job right. Schedule an appointment or get your questions answered by an expert at (301) 519-3500.