Foibles of Having Working Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

Foibles of Having Working Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

The extreme cold, snow and wintry weather this year has spurred me to mention the foibles of having a working fireplaces and wood stoves.

It was an associate that had me thinking about some of the past instances that have happened with unprepared chimneys and homeowners.

I am not a home inspector but I have dealt with enough stone and brick chimneys to know that chimney liners must be in good condition in order to have a fire in the fireplace.  That means having it inspected every year when used often.  I have been with chimney sweeps at homes when they ‘sweep’ a chimney out of creosote and it fills up more than a half of a paper grocery bag of this black, resinous substance.  Highly flammable creosote will burn


your home down before the fire company will get there.

Now if you have a wood stove in your fireplace it is important to have a stainless steel liner within that flue lining.  Why is that?  Because the intensity of the heat generated by these high efficient wood stoves will ‘cook’ the creosote on the sides of the masonry liners and ignite the chimney quickly.  I have been in an older home that had a  wood stove in the chimney without a liner and have seen the creosote in 2 days close up the whole chimney with creosote.  Yes, it can be disastrous for a family.

Words to caution…Ever experience a chimney fire?

It is so scary.  It sounds like a jet plane is landing on the house or a locomotive is coming at you!  Both fires (one was one at my home) caused by either (1) not cleaning the chimney & the chimney having no liner and (2) putting card board boxes into the fire which causes an incredible incendiary experience in the chimney that is not enjoyable.

Fireplaces are wonderful but inefficient as a heat source since the majority goes up the chimney and the damper needs to stay open long after the fire has died down.  Wood stoves are great if you have them properly installed by a licensed company that knows what they are doing…it is not a do it yourself kind of job.  Please safety first.

I do miss my Lopi wood stove for the heat it gives out is just so much better than a hot air or water heating system.  But be mindful of the responsibility to you and your family with a working fireplace and wood stove.  We want you here for a long time!  Yes, there are foibles of having a working fireplace….


Ginny Lacey Gorman is your go to RI real estate agent for homes for sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond…knowing the geographic area, schools, happenings,important tidbits of local information and businesses well.

Waterfront, oceanfront and coastal RI homes for sale are her specialty. If you are looking for someone to guide you through the home selling or buying process, she is a licensed agent who sells RI homes in this real estate market, just call Ginny at 401.529.7849.