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Mountain Home Blog

Dry wood
Avoid Damage and Save Money with Dry Firewood

It’s practically heating season in the mountains! As fall and winter are upon us, it’s important to plan ahead if you burn wood.

You may have heard that burning dry wood is better, but you may not be aware of how essential it is to the environment. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with tips on how to choose the best dry wood to maximize heat and minimize air pollution. 

The truth is, burning wet wood can cost you money and cause dangerous creosote buildup.  
Burning wet wood has two negative consequences: 
  1. Your fire will smoke more, causing creosote build up in your stove and chimney.
  2. Your wood will burn less efficiently, costing you more to create the same amount of heat. 

When you burn wet wood, some of the heat that would be released to your home must be used to heat and boil off residual water. In addition, energy is released in the form of smoke. This smoke is both a pollutant and can cause irritation to your eyes, throat, and lungs. 

Every year when we clean out chimneys and wood stoves we see massive amounts of creosote build-up from owners who probably didn’t understand the necessity of burning wood with the proper moisture content. Please keep your family and your home safe by burning only wood that is properly seasoned and ready to burn. 

Your wood needs to dry below 20% moisture content before it is ready to burn. 

Cut wood takes at least 6-12 months to dry, but there are a lot of factors that affect it. Drying time depends on weather conditions, how covered it is, airflow, and the type of tree the wood comes from. Split wood will dry much faster than whole logs. Your firewood should be kept off the ground, and with a covering over the top to protect it from rain or snow. 

Things to consider when purchasing firewood:

If you’re purchasing firewood, there are a number of things to keep in mind. Firewood can be purchased under several designations: 

  • Green wood: While green wood is the cheapest option, it also requires drying out. You should have a suitable place to store the wood (keeping it dry of course!) for 6-12 months before burning. 
  • Dried wood: Dried wood is a bit more expensive but should be good to go from the dealer. It’s still best to ask questions and check your wood to ensure it’s below 20%. 
  • Kiln-dried wood: Kiln dried wood is the most expensive option but has the most quality control. If you’re looking for the more environmentally-friendly option however, it’s best to use naturally dried wood. 
  • Seasoned wood: “Seasoned” is not a technical term, so if you come across this from a supplier, you’ll want to ask lots of questions. Ask when the wood was cut into rounds – not when it was felled! (Remember: the drying process happens much faster for cut wood). And you’ll definitely want to check the moisture content yourself before using seasoned wood. 
How do you check the moisture content of wood?

While there are various DIY techniques to test the moisture of your wood, the most accurate and easy way is to use a moisture meter. 

Moisture meters are relatively cheap (anywhere from $15-$50+) and are straightforward to use. You’ll want to split a piece of firewood and test the freshly cut side.

The EPA provides a good instructional pamphlet on how to use a moisture meter. Just remember, you’re looking for a moisture content below 20%. 

Remember: The moisture content of your wood is a matter of safety. 

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that while burning dry wood will save you money and effort, it’s also about keeping your home and loved ones safe. Buildup in your stove or chimney is a serious matter that requires immediate attention. 

If you’ve made the mistake of burning wet or green wood in the past, schedule a service call for your cleanup today, and make sure you stick to drier wood in the future.  Our certified chimney sweep carries a moisture meter and would be happy to test your wood. 

Always remember to plan ahead when it comes to your firewood. If you’re cutting it yourself or buying green wood you’ll want to ensure you’re giving it plenty of time to dry before you use it in your woodstove.

Electric vs gas
Should You Get an Electric Fireplace?

Electric fireplaces have become increasingly popular in the last few years. They offer versatility, gorgeous lighting effects, and are easy to install. There are many options to choose from when it comes to electric fireplaces and for some, they may seem like a perfect alternative to traditional fireplaces. 

However, people require reliable and safe heat – so, how do electric fireplaces stack up? How complicated are they to use and how much do they cost?

While they may seem like a great option for your home, you want to know everything you can about electric fireplaces before purchasing one. Whether you are considering an electric fireplace due to eco-conscious reasons or you’re unable to install a traditional fireplace, it’s good to know all of the facts before making a decision. 

How Much Do Electric Fireplaces Cost to Run?

With the inclusion of an electric fireplace, you can expect an added charge to your utility bill. Plus, if you’re relying on an electric fireplace to be your sole source of heat, you’re going to expect an expensive monthly bill. However, when you have the heat element of the electric unit turned off, your monthly charges should be minimal. 

What Are the Advantages of Having an Electric Fireplace?

Besides the look of an electric fireplace, these fireplaces are popular among buyers for their versatility. Electric fireplaces can easily be installed in any space in your home, since there’s no vent pipe or chimney pipe, as there are in traditional gas or wood fireplaces. You can hang one on a wall or you can have it recessed into a wall. An electric fireplace brings a certain elegance and ambiance to any room in the home. 

The technology of electric fireplaces has also improved, which means that you won’t have to deal with tacky-looking fake flames. Instead, you have the option of showcasing different log styles, pebbles, rocks, and more. This means that an electric fireplace will only add to the decor of the room that you’ve installed it in. 

In addition, installing an electric fireplace is an eco-conscious decision – by having an electric fireplace in your home, you’re reducing the emissions of traditional  fireplaces. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Having an Electric Fireplace?

Electric fireplace heaters are not designed to be the sole heating source in your home – depending on the size, they put out about as much heat as a standard-voltage electric heater. Not only can these fireplaces be expensive, but they do not have the ability to fully heat your whole home. In this case, space heaters have more of a capability to heat large spaces. Electric fireplaces are also not reliable during power outages, since they need electricity to be used. 

While electric fireplaces can look better than they used to, they still don’t replace the same ambiance that comes from traditional fireplaces. You cannot get the same crackling sound that you’d normally get with wood-burning heat sources. Now, if you are looking to be more eco-conscious, adding an electric fireplace takes away the emissions that come from a traditional fireplace. 

While electric fireplaces may be popular amongst those who may not be able to have traditional fireplaces, there is still a need for reliable safe heat. This is where we at Mountain Home Stove & Fireplace come in. With our years of experience in providing customers with excellent service, we can provide electric as well as install traditional gas fireplaces and more.

 

Gas vs electric

How Do Gas Fireplaces Work?

Gas fireplaces have been a staple of homes for centuries and if you haven’t had one before, there’s a good chance you know someone who does. They provide heat safely and reliably.  There’s a movement away from non-electric home heating; many gas appliances will provide safe heat if the power goes out.  Not only are gas fireplaces incredibly popular, but with the end of the summer, we’re inching into the perfect season to use a gas fireplace.

While gas fireplaces are a great addition to a beautiful home, some people may not be aware of how a gas fireplace works.

Before we fully get into how a fireplace works, let’s get into the basics. A gas fireplace will operate on natural gas or liquefied petroleum (propane) gas. With natural gas, the pressure is at a 6” water column pressure. Liquefied petroleum gas is twice that. What this means is that the burner regulator and orifice are different when it comes to the two gases. Besides these differences, the two basics are similar. You wouldn’t even know the difference by flame appearance alone. 

The Ins and Outs

In a gas fireplace, a half-inch (or a ⅜” gas supply) line is connected to a burner through a gas valve. The burner will either be made of ceramic material or it will be a tube style burner. The burner consists of a gas valve, a control board, and fittings. The gas valve is closed as a safety measure unless there is a call for heat. It controls fuel to a pilot assembly and the burner. 

When there is a call for heat, either from a thermostat, on/off switch, or remote control, the valve opens up and supplies fuel to the ignition system. Depending on the type of ignition system – electronic or standing pilot – fuel may first go to a pilot assembly then once the pilot flame is established the valve allows fuel to the burner.  The burner has small holes in it that gas flows through, which ignites and creates the flames you enjoy.  In a standing pilot system, a small flame exists full time and the valve allows fuel to the burner upon a call for heat.

Unless heat from a pilot light is present, it is common for condensation to develop inside the glass when the fireplace is first lit; however, the condensation will quickly dissipate once the unit heats up.

What About the Logs?

When you think about traditional wood-burning fireplaces (which many gas fireplaces are designed to emulate), you think of logs crackling in a fire. However, in the modern heath industry, gas fireplaces offer many different “media” options. There are plenty of realistic-looking ceramic logs that glow when they’re heated. This way, you can keep the look of a traditional fireplace without needing actual wood logs. You can also use driftwood logs, colored glass beads, sharp-edged glass, pine cones, and more.  

The Basics of a Firebox

So, let’s go over the firebox. Made out of steel, it’s designed and manufactured to exact specifications. You will see that the size and dimensions of the firebox will vary between manufacturers and styles. Traditional looking fireboxes are square, 24″-48″ wide and there are also more contemporary units more wide than high – 18″ tall and five to eight feet long. 

Glass and Co-Axial Venting

The glass you find on most gas fireplaces is made out of ceramic material, which can withstand high temperatures. Fireplaces are also made with tempered glass, which does not transfer heat as effectively and is less expensive, but may be the right choice in a room that doesn’t need heat.

What is co-axial venting? It’s essentially a pipe within a pipe and is manufactured in a few sizes.  The point of co-axial venting is that the products of combustion flow upwards and out in the inner pipe; air required for combustion flows downward and into the firebox in the annular space between the pipes.  It is common to find “B-vent” style venting on older units that are at the end of their life.  This vent provides only an exit for the combustion products and combustion air comes from the room.  This becomes a real problem in a “tight” house with newer or replaced windows, weather-striping or bathroom and kitchen fans, as the appliance becomes starved for combustion air and won’t run properly. 

Where Can You Install a Gas Fireplace?

While you may see gas fireplaces typically in living rooms, gas fireplaces can be installed anywhere as long as a gas supply line can be installed and the venting requirements are met. You can install them in an entry, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, even the garage!  

A gas fireplace is a wonderful addition to any room in the house – if you’ve always wanted one, but weren’t sure how to go about getting one, stop by the showroom or give us a call! We’d love to install your brand new gas fireplace safely and efficiently.

Let’s Keep You Safe: Fire Safety in the Outdoors!

As a family-owned and operated local business, we’ve been keeping the Yampa Valley warm and happy since 2002. It’s our mission to be the Steamboat Springs area’s go-to resource for safe, quality products and services, with a personal touch. We love our outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, and we want you to enjoy them as well! Part of enjoying an outdoor fire is knowing how to have one safely. When you’re relaxing in your backyard, we don’t want you to worry about accidentally causing harm to the environment, let alone yourself or others. Knowing safety protocols creates a safer and happier outdoor experience for us all. Let’s keep our fellow Steamboat Springs residents safe, together!

What are Fire Restrictions?

Fire restrictions are in place to help in the reduction of wildfires and fire risk. They can change due to many variables, such as the weather and drought. There are three stages of fire restrictions:

  • Stage One: The first stage occurs when there is an increasing fire danger and/or an increasing preparedness level, and the risks of keeping the forest open to all activities begin to be outweighed by the risks of doing so. Stage I imposes relatively minor restrictions aimed at preventing the start of wildfires based on human activities that are known to be high risk, specifically smoking and campfires.
  • Stage Two: This stage intensifies the restrictions from Stage I by focusing on activities that, although normally managed under permit or contract, have a relatively high risk of causing a fire. Restrictions under Stage II will affect forest users and will have economic impacts on contractors, permittees, and others. Therefore, the decision to move to Stage II will involve a risk/benefit assessment, as well as consideration of economic and social impacts. Stage II prohibits all open flames except gas-fueled devices that can be turned off. Routt County is under Stage II restrictions effective 12:00 pm Wednesday, June 23, 2021.
  • Stage Three: This stage means closure. Stage three is met when the risks of fire are extremely high. At this point, the social or economic impacts are outweighed by the benefits of virtually eliminating the potential for human-caused fire.

Go to http://www.coemergency.com/p/fire-bans-danger.html for information on local and federal fire bans. Now that we’ve covered your bases with fire restrictions, we’ll discuss the best practices on how to have an outdoor fire in a safe manner next.

How to Safely Have an Outdoor Fire

If you’re planning on having an outdoor fire, either in a backyard or a wilderness setting, it’s important to be responsible. Ignoring safety regulations could result in financial loss and could end up being deadly. It’s the summer and we all want to have fun, so let’s be safe first!

  • First, consider whether you really need to have a wood fire and if that fire is currently allowed under local or federal fire restrictions.  There are lots of portable gas-fired alternatives to a pile of wood and a blaze that can last for hours. In Routt County, go to https://co.routt.co.us/311/Critical-Emergency-Information for more information about current restrictions.
  • Check the wind conditions. If it is particularly windy, then consider waiting to have that fire.  It becomes difficult to light kindling and high winds could accidentally send sparks nearby dry brush or structures that could potentially ignite and get out of control fast.
  • Don’t light a fire under trees or a building – make sure your fire is out in the open so to not endanger anything nearby. In addition, keep wood chairs well away from the flames. 
  • Always have an extinguisher nearby. Be ready to put out a fire quickly if needed.
  • Never leave a fire unattended. Even if there are just embers in the pit, do not leave it unsupervised.
  • When you are ready to turn in, drench and stir your wood fire – making absolutely certain that the fire and embers are cold. 

Not All Wildfires Are Bad

We’ve become accustomed to seeing larger-than-life wildfire events that have been catastrophic to the environment. The East Troublesome and Cameron Peak wildfires were uncomfortably close and our current season is well underway. However, what if not all wildfires in the outdoors are bad? What if some are intentional? Truth is, some fires in forests are intentional and are done to help create barriers – specifically to set a path for approaching wildfires. This takes away any flammable material, and allows the fire to die out faster.

Intentional fires can also be used to burn off any aggressive vegetation that isn’t suitable for the wildlife in the area. Of course, intentional fires are often conducted by professionals and even intentional fires can get out of hand – such as the intentional fire set in the Brazilian Amazon.

Overall, we hope that you found this article useful and educational. Steamboat Springs is our home; let’s protect the community and one another by staying informed. We want everyone to be safe when they’re outside – by keeping safety in mind at all times, you can help ensure you enjoy any fire that you set outside. Remember, Mountain Home Stove & Fireplace is here for you! Got questions? Call us anytime at 970-879-7962!

Summer Is The Best Time to Inspect & Sweep Your Wood Appliance

You’re celebrating the beginning of summer right now. After the year we’ve all had, we’re looking forward to a few great months of beautiful weather. In between getting a tan at the beach and enjoying a scrumptious afternoon BBQ with your loved ones, take a moment to remember the importance of performing an annual inspection and sweeping of your wood chimney vent. 

So, why is it so important to schedule your annual inspection and sweep this summer? Read on as we delve into all the benefits. 

Sweep Now, Enjoy Later

Whenever warmer weather approaches, it’s hard to redirect your focus from summer activities to the upcoming fall season. However, it’s always a smart idea to think ahead – and that includes ensuring your wood chimney vent is properly inspected and swept, so it’s ready to roll when colder days stream in.

Why should you sweep your wood appliance? And why should you do it now? 

While it’s easy to put the task off until colder weather arrives, if you delay getting it done until fall, you could run into operational issues when it’s time to light the first fire. Also, our labor rates will be increasing August 1  – be safe and save some money, sweep now! 

From avoiding back-drafting of smoke into the house and potential chimney fires to protecting your health and removing any clogs, prepping your wood appliance in advance of the fall season will ensure it functionals at an optimal level. 

Wood burning fireplace

A scheduled sweep will also look out for any problems that may be lingering – such as unwanted leaks or weakened parts that could threaten the integrity of the structure. 

Industry experts state that you should have your chimney inspected once a year. If you are the proud owner of a wood appliance, your chimney can develop sooty buildup during colder months, leading to potentially hazardous situations if not addressed by a professional.  

Getting your chimney swept before fall arrives is a vital part of ensuring you’ll be able to safely enjoy your wood appliance once the weather gets chilly.

How Does the Sweeping Process Work?

When you make an appointment for an annual sweep at Mountain Home Stove and Fireplace, one of our experts will perform a comprehensive inspection of your appliance.

Our certified professionals will assess the gaskets, liner material, clearances, and the condition of the cap and flashing/masonry cap. During the course of the process, our specialist will explain their findings and perform any repairs that may be needed – with your approval, of course. Any findings will be written up in the event that you wish to wait to have repairs done. 

It’s important to get your chimney swept as soon as you can – not only so you can enjoy the rest of your summer without worrying about the winter, but also because our labor rates will increase after August 1st.

Bookings for annual appointments are filling up fast! Give us a call today to schedule your inspection and sweeping, and you’ll enjoy our special summer prices. We want you to be safe and happy this upcoming fall season and that starts with a clean wood appliance.

Mountain Home Stove & Fireplace staff

Why choose us?

“Whether you are looking for a contemporary gas fireplace or rustic wood stove, we have plenty of options for you to choose from. With over 18 years of experience under my belt, I can confidently guide you in selecting the right fireplace for your home or business.” –Wolf Bennett, Owner

About Us

A family-owned and operated local business, Mountain Home Stove & Fireplace has been keeping the Yampa Valley warm and happy since 2002. Our mission is to be the Steamboat Springs area’s go-to resource for safe, quality products and services, with a personal touch.

Our Location

Address: 2620 S. Copper Frontage Rd Unit 6b, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487
(Between Kitchen Perfection &
Granite Haus off highway 129/Elk River Rd.)

E-Mail: mountainhomestove@gmail.com

Phone: 970-879-7962


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