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Why do Some People Object to Open Fireplaces?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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There are several concerns about open fireplaces which lead some people to object to them, primarily on environmental and safety grounds. Many of these people point out that there are alternatives to open fireplaces which are safer, more efficient, and more environmentally sound, and they encourage people to consider these alternatives in lieu of installing or upgrading an open fireplace. These objections are certainly worthy of consideration, especially when one considers that several cities in the world are considering bans on open fireplaces.

From a safety standpoint, an open fireplace can be extremely dangerous. Because the fireplace is open to the room, sparks can easily fly out and start a fire, or logs can roll out of the fireplace and onto the floor. Many open fireplaces have screens and guards in place to prevent this, but it is still possible for sparks to slip through, and some of them can smolder for a surprisingly long period of time in carpeting or couches before catching fire. The risk of burns is also greatly increased with an open fireplace, especially in a house with young and curious children or pets.

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Open fireplaces are also notorious for being extremely smoky. In addition to making the room unpleasant for people, the smoke also indicates that the fire is not burning efficiently. An inefficient fire will not burn as hot, defeating the purpose of lighting a fire in the first place, and inefficient fires also generate more pollution. To burn well, an open fireplace needs a well designed and frequently cleaned chimney which produces plenty of draw, allowing the wood to burn as hot as possible.

As a general rule, open fireplaces require more wood than closed woodstoves, and because they burn less efficiently than well-designed woodstoves, this represents an immense waste. Many people object to wood heat in general because they believe it is rather wasteful to burn trees when cleaner methods of energy are available, but these objections can be especially valid in the case of an open fireplace.

For people who use open fireplaces for heat, a woodstove is an excellent alternative which is relatively easy to install, as the chimney pipe for the woodstove can be run up the chimney used by the fireplace. Some people like the look of a burning fire, in which case many gas, oil, and pellet stoves are an alternative to consider, as they have clear doors which allow people to see the flames. These heating methods are all safer, easier to use, more efficient, and cleaner burning.

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mobilian33
Post 3

I have the portable wire screens that I can use in front of my fireplaces. These screens do a good job of keeping the fire in the fireplace. One thing not so good about them is that they also block a lot of the heat from leaving the fireplace and entering the room.

The screens are safer, but I burn the fires for heat, so I only use the screens when I am out of the house and when I go to bed at night. I have been doing this for years, and up to this point I have not had a fire in my house. I think open fireplaces are a great way to heat, but you have to be careful. I feel safer with an open wood burning fireplace than I do burning any type of gas, which could explode.

Drentel
Post 2

I can relate to the part of the article that talks about how sparks can fly out of the fireplace when you are burning an open fire. When I was a kid, my daddy would load the wood burning fireplaces up, and by the middle of the day they would be full of coals. When Daddy would bring in a new log and put it on the fire, the coals and fresh wood would combine and start popping.

Then coals and sparks would start flying. The floors and rugs around the fireplaces had plenty of little and not so little burn spots where particles had come out of the fires and landed on them.

Sporkasia
Post 1

I agree with many of the reasons not to burn wood in open fireplaces mentioned in this article. However, for people who say that it is a waste to cut down trees to burn the wood, I say plant more trees. When trees and the growth and cutting of trees are well managed there will not be a shortage of wood to use or a shortage of living trees to protect our environment.

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