Solid Fuel Burning Fireplaces

Solid fuel burning fireplaces typically burn wood, manufactured logs or pellets. While they have become more efficient since the late 1990s, they must be operated with extreme care and homeowners are encouraged to educate themselves on proper operation, cleaning and maintenance prior to using their solid fuel fireplaces.

Operating Tips and Issues

There are a number of issues that can affect the proper use and efficiency of a solid burning fireplace, including:


If you smell a gas in your home: Do not leave fireplace doors open. Do not close the chimney damper until all ashes are cold to the touch – a closed damper could divert carbon monoxide gases into the living spaces of the home. The inhalation of carbon monoxide can be fatal. Install a carbon monoxide detector must be placed near the fireplace in accordance with the manufacturerʼs recommendations.

Drafts – Most solid fuel burning appliances are now equipped with positive closures on their doors with an open front design. This helps to eliminate drafts from the chimney that cool the interior of the home. Modern cost-effective models ensure air is brought in directly from the outside to the firebox to improve efficiency.

Excess Smoke – If you start a fire in a cold fireplace it may create a large of smoke inside the home. To minimize the amount of smoke generated, make sure the chimney flue is open, and preheat the chimney. Preheating is done by building a small hot fire using paper and small slivers of wood (i.e., kindling) or by preheating the chimney with heat from a hair dryer. You may want to open a window slightly to provide fresh air to the room before lighting the fire.

Carbon Monoxide – As gas or solid fuel burns, it releases heat, moisture, and combustion gases. When smoldering embers are not generating enough heat to maintain the chimney draft, the gases will accumulate in the fireplace. These gases contain a component that is dangerous to people (carbon monoxide). Carbon monoxide depletes the supply of oxygen in your body and can result in fatal asphyxiation.