Flickering flames, glowing embers, and the essence of wood smoke: nothing is quite as cozy as a fire on a cold winter's day. A fireplace needs to safely contain that cozy fire, encourage the fuel to burn, exhaust smoke, and deliver warmth to the room.
A traditional fireplace heats by radiation. Radiant heat from the fire warms objects in a room, not the air. Heat is retained by the walls of the fireplace, too, and released slowly into the room. Unfortunately, most traditional fireplaces are notoriously inefficient at heating. They may actually increase drafts in a house by drawing room air through the mouth of the fireplace and sending it up the chimney along with as much as 90 percent of the heat generated by the fire.
Service professionals can help optimize your fireplace for energy efficiency, or convert a wood-burning fireplace to gas or install an insert that will make it more energy-efficient. A professional can also properly maintain the brickwork around your fireplace mantle, or fix chimneys, and of course a chimney sweep can keep your fireplace clean and safe with regular maintenance.