Taking Care of the Fireplace… Types of Fire Place | A Functional Decoration for Home Interiors

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres once said, “Go to bed in your fireplace – you’ll sleep like a log!” Although you shouldn’t take Ellen’s advice literally, you may want to follow through with some helpful hints to make your fireplace cleaner, prettier, safer and more efficient.

Fireplaces are aesthetic pieces that add a pleasant and warm hue to the house. Not only do they heat up a space, but they also add to the looks quotient. These are normally found in living rooms albeit some households add them to their bedrooms too…

General Pros and Cons of Having a Fireplace

Fireplaces per se –

  • Heat up the space
  • Save energy and money spent on electricity…moreover one can also use them to heat up food
  • Provide warmth and light during power outages
  • Operate on easily accessible resources like wood, fuel, electricity et. al.
  • Help create a warm and relaxing ambience where one can take a digital detox and connect with family and friends
  • Double up as conversational spots as they are picturesque and add a rustic touch to the space they occupy

On the negative/flip side, fireplaces –

  • Can be dangerous especially with a plethora of wooden furniture lying around it and more so if the entire house is wooden!
  • Are quite expensive to install
  • Which run on wood may pose a paucity of space when it comes to storing the wood and may also leave around a lot of dust and dirt in your spick-and-span house!
  • Demand constant deep cleaning… not only the fireplace floor but even the chimney need well-ventilated spaces.

Types of Fireplaces… Their Benefits and Drawbacks

Let’s take a comparative look at the various types of fireplaces and their pros and cons –


Electric Fireplace

Wood-Burning Stove

  • Easy to install
  • You don’t need to wait for the fire to die out as they can be turned off instantly
  • Safe option for families with children or pets as the flame is artificial
  • Nullifies – venting and emission of gases or fumes
  • Neat and tidy
  • Portable so it goes with you when you move home
  • Easy to remove
  • Remote control available
  • Allows the freedom to select either/and flame/heater option
  • Available in a plethora of styles to suit a variety of homes
  • Lack of the nostalgic feeling that traditional fireplaces provide
  • Not the same value addition that a wood or gas fireplace brings to your home sweet home
  • Can’t heat up your entire house
  • Not environment-friendly
  • Flames are artificial
  • Redundant during power outages

Gas Fireplace

Ethanol Fireplace

  • Cleaner burning vis-à-vis wood fireplaces
  • Produces more heat at lower energy costs
  • Easy to insert into an existing open fireplace
  • Luxury of selecting from two options – vented and vent less
  • Option to switch on and off is available.
  • Available in variegated styles to suit all palates
  • Unaffected by power cut.
  • Gives a tad more realistic appearance than its electric counterpart.
  • Source of gas is mandatory
  • Misses out on providing the same ethnic feeling that a traditional fireplace promises
  • Innate risk of contaminants
  • Demands professional installation and maintenance.

Wood-Burning Fireplace

Wood-Burning Fireplace

  • Creates an ethnic aura with the perfect nostalgic blend of rustic appearance, crackling sound and woodsy fragrance
  • Adds value to any house
  • Provides you with the option of choosing which type of logs you wish to burn
  • Usable during a power cut
  • Mandates regular wood supply along with a dedicated area for storing wood
  • Needs to be cleaned post every use
  • Chimney needs annual cleaning
  • Slightly expensive
  • Mandates safety grate and accessories
  • Calls for precautions in houses with children and pets
  • Adds to air pollution

Wood-Burning Stove

Wood-Burning Stove

  • More efficient than open fireplaces
  • Available in a plethora of designs
  • Heats the room even after fire has died out
  • Slightly expensive
  • A vent is mandatory
  • Periodic wood replenishment is a necessity in order to maintain heat
  • Chimney needs annual cleaning
  • Adds to air pollution

Ethanol Fireplace

Ethanol Fireplace

  • No venting required
  • Ultra-smart appearance
  • Zilch ashes and smoke
  • Easy and fast to install.
  • The heat output is less vis-à-vis its other counterparts
  • Highly flammable
  • Need for refilling post depletion of fuel source.

Now that you have known the benefits and drawbacks of a fireplace, as well as the types of a fireplace, let me introduce you to some tips to design a fireplace wherein you will learn about best fireplace locations, fireplace planning, fireplace variety and many more…

Wood Fireplace Maintenance Hacks

Hope the above section outlining the types of fireplaces and the advantages and disadvantages of each has helped you arrive at a well-informed decision about which fireplace best suits your needs.

With wood fireplaces being an all-time rage, Gharpedia brings you certain cleaning and fireplace maintenance hacks for the same.

1. Substitute for Firewood

Paper Rolls in Fireplace

If you want to light your fire but have no firewood (and it’s too cold to go out and get some), finish reading your daily newspaper.

Then tightly roll up a couple of the plain (not coloured) papers and tie them securely with twine or wire. Use the paper rolls in place of real or fake logs.

2. Feed the Fire Efficiently

Feed the Fire Efficiently

By opening the window that is closest to the fireplace, the fire will use oxygen from outside, instead of taking it from inside the house. You only need to open the window an inch or even less.

3. Make a Scented Fire

Scented Fire

Spread the rinds from an orange or lemon on paper towels, and let them dry out overnight. When the rinds are thoroughly dry, toss them on the fire to create a lovely citrus aroma.

In case you are not fond of citrus scent you could try tossing in a few pinecones instead for a more woody and earthy fragrance.

4. Managing Soot

Before lighting the fire, toss a handful of plain table salt on the logs (real, fake or made from newspaper). The salt will help to loosen soot from the chimney and it will also give the fire a bright, yellow flame.

If you don’t eat a lot of potatoes, make a deal with a restaurant that serves French fries, and have them save the potato peels for you. Put the peels on paper towel and let them dry overnight. When the peels are dry you can burn them in your fireplace. They burn with a gusto that sends the soot up and out of the chimney!

If you’re a tea drinker tear open steeped, moist tea bags and sprinkle the tea leaves over the sooty fireplace remains. If you’re a coffee drinker you can use moist coffee grounds on the soot.  The tea leaves and coffee grounds help prevent the ash particles from flying up into the air when you clean up the soot.

5. Cleaning Glass Fireplace Doors

Cleaning Glass Fireplace Doors

Use a wet sponge to rub on some wood ashes. Then use a clean sponge to rinse off the glass along with the dirt.

Besides cleaning fireplace glass doors, here are some house cleaning tips that might be useful to you:

6. Cleaning the Hearth

Cleaning the Hearth

If you can regularly clean the soot marks off the hearth (the area surrounding the fireplace) the soot won’t become ingrained and hard to clean off.

For light soot marks, dust them away with a vacuum cleaner attachment or a brush. For soot stains that can’t be removed easily, try a gum eraser (available at offices and art-supply stores) or scrub them with a stiff brush and plain water.

For stains that don’t scrub off that way, wet a sponge or brush with distilled white vinegar and go at it. Then rinse the spot well with plain water.

Important Points

  1. Never burn coloured newspapers or magazines in the fireplace. The inks and dyes used to make them contain lead, which is dangerous, especially for children and pets.
  2. If you use a salt substitute product called NuSalt – which contains potassium chloride instead of the sodium chloride which is in regular salt – your fire flames will be a beautiful, romantic, mood-setting combination of pink and lavender.
  3. If your fireplace has grates instead of andirons you may be able to reduce the amount of smoke the fire emits – just place a brick under each leg of the grate.
  4. After you’ve cleaned the ashes from the fireplace, fill a pan or a paper plate with baking soda and place it in the fireplace. Leave it for a day or so, and it will absorb the smell of soot.

A fireplace creates an impact only if it is neat and well-maintained. If not, it can be nothing less than a nightmare. Here’s hoping the cues in this blog enable you to host an impactful fireplace and help you with fireplace maintenance!

Image Courtesy – Image 2, Image 3, Image 7, Image 8, Image 9, Image 10, Image 11

Author Bio

Huta Raval – An English Literature and Journalism Topper, Huta Raval has graduated from the L D Arts College, Ahmedabad. Post serving for 23 years in the NBFC and Public Library Sectors her desire for ‘writing the unwritten’ brought her to the creative field of content writing. Her clientele comprises of NGOs, Blogging Platforms, Newspapers, Academic Institutions, et al.

Do you have query?

Let our experts solve it for you while you rest

I need help to