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It is important to have your fireplace properly inspected and cleaned by a pro before lighting for the first time each year. This will help to deter any hazards that could start a fire in your home, such as chimney blockage, weather deterioration, or invasive animal nests. It is also a great time to ask questions about how to safely use your fireplace.

You’ve got to be careful when buying firewood. Buying recently cut wood can spread oak wilt, common on Texas trees. The fungal disease can destroy a red oak in a matter of months. And if it’s cut up for firewood and hauled around the state, it can spread the disease. There are probably more than 50 centers of the disease in the Dallas area, says Jim Houser of the Texas A&M Forest Service, and 76 counties have reported the infection. Central Texas has been hit hardest, particularly around Austin.

All fireplaces start with a good operating and well maintained chimney. Using your fireplace when there is a build-up of creosote is very dangerous and can lead to a chimney fire also resulting in a full blown house fire. How do you know if you have a creosote build-up? Well, the easiest way is to call your local chimney sweep. If you are handy and physically able to climb on your roof, you can co the inspection and possible cleaning yourself.

Does your fireplace always seem to have an odor, even when you're not using it? 

Many consumers are still avid fans of using wood to heat their homes despite other more eco-friendly alternatives such as renewable energy.

The reliance of burning wood as a main heating source is popular throughout the U.S., but its use has increased by 50% in the Northeast and Middle Atlantic regions from 2005 to 2012, said the Energy Information Administration.

If you use oil for heating, there's nothing stopping you from having a gas fireplace. Your home probably isn't equipped for natural gas, but never fear; you can install a propane fireplace, which is just as efficient as a natural gas one.

How to choose a stove for heat

 When you are searching for an alternative source of heat, consider getting a wood or pellet stove.

Choosing the right fireplace can be a daunting experience. You must determine what you are looking for i.e. wood, gas, heat, esthetics, efficiency, ease of use, see through, peninsula, corner are just some of the things you need to decide before heading out to buy your fireplace. There are commercial sites available, such as Woodstoves-Fireplaces.com where you can get professional help and recommendations based on what your need are.

There is nothing like an open outdoor fire for warmth, light and provides a relaxing setting for conversation and social gatherings.

First and foremost, don't try to burn water. This sounds silly but it is the most fundamental thing to consider when you are burning wood. It might surprise you but green wood is up to 50% water. Putting it another way, for every Kg of green wood you try to burn, you are in essense adding around a pint of water. Drying you wood properly is key to make sure you have a safe, efficient enjoyable fire.

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