Something that might show up on the summer’s “honey do” list is “install a fireplace insert.” An insert, or wood-burning stove placed in the fireplace, can refresh a tired fireplace and will produce more heat than an open fireplace, helping you save on heating bills this winter.

ImageProceed with caution, however.

Most of us know that burning wood creates creosote, a byproduct of incomplete combustion. Creosote can build up in your chimney  – and since it’s highly flammable, it doesn’t take long before a dangerous situation develops.

The first step is to have your existing fireplace and chimney thoroughly inspected and cleaned. Installing a new system  with existing problems will only worsen them. Take the time and spend the money now; it will save you lots of both in the future.

Your chimney flue must be of the proper size in relation to the new insert. Chimneys work by increasing the velocity of gases emitted from the fire and moving them up and out quickly. A chimney flue that’s too large for the insert will give the gases too much time to linger in the space, causing them to cool and form a dangerous build-up.

Don’t just shove the new insert into the existing space without any liner, don’t rely on your existing liner, and don’t settle for a liner that’s too short. For maximum safety, invest in a smaller diameter flue liner that runs from the insert all the way to the top of the chimney.

Finally, be sure the insert you’re installing is EPA-certified.

For this “honey-do” item, we recommend using a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps® professional from start to finish. A small investment now could save you from debilitating consequences in the future.

In a future post, we’ll discuss converting gas fireplaces to wood-burning ones.