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Help Squad: The costs of keeping the fire burning

Facts

Send your letters, your complaints, your injustices and your story ideas to HelpSquad@pioneerlocal.com and we will be happy to help you.

The crackling, popping sound of burning wood, the ambiance of a dim lit room, the smell of wood, and the toasty warm feeling in the room.

Those are the advantages of a wood burning fireplace, according to Brian King, operations manager of Early Times Home Solutions, an Elmhurst based home improvement company that services fireplaces and chimneys.

Given the winter we’ve been having, Help Squad reached out to King for some fireplace maintenance tips. Doing these things won’t just give you a more pleasant experience, but they could save you money in the long run.

1. Check for downdrafts: Extreme cold and/or wind can cause a downdraft in your chimney, making it more difficult to light the fire and keep it going. Before lighting the fire, open the fireplace damper and hold your hand under it to see if you feel a cold air downdraft. If so, crack a door or window on the opposite side of the room to change the airflow. Your fire will be easier to light, and it will keep the flame lit.

2. Have your chimney cleaned and serviced annually: It’s a good idea to get your chimney cleaned and serviced one a year by a certified chimney company. The company technician will inspect your chimney by placing a video camera into the smoke chamber and flute areas. Also, if you are buying a home, it is absolutely necessary to have the chimney inspected before closing on the home, as chimney repairs can be costly.

3. Buy a good chimney cover: A proper chimney cover will keep snow, ice, critters, leaves and other debris out.

4. Get quality wood: Make sure you buy your wood from a reputable supplier. Wood that burns the best has been sitting and drying out for at least nine months to a year.

Thinking about getting a new fireplace? In this weather, we can really understand why!

Gas or wood burning?

We asked King to give us a price comparison, as well as the advantages of each.

Gas: The initial investment is approximately $600-1,000, and after that, the only cost of a gas fireplace is the cost of gas. Plus, gas fireplaces are easy. They turn on and off, they are simple, and you still get the ambiance and the heat.

Wood Burning: A full cord of wood consists of 16 inch pieces, stacked four feet tall by eight feet wide. King estimates you will go through about one cord per season if you use your fireplace three or four times per week. The cost of a face cord: $225. There is also the cost of cleaning and maintaining the chimney.

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Facts

Send your letters, your complaints, your injustices and your story ideas to HelpSquad@pioneerlocal.com and we will be happy to help you.

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