Coal Burning Fireplace – Fuels, Usage & Alternatives

Coal fireplaces have been used to warm homes for several generations and continue to be useful to this day.

If you’re concerned about creosote buildup in your chimney, you may want to consider the coal alternative. Our discussion focuses on coal fireplaces and the benefits derived.

Also, we’ll be finding out if there are any disadvantages and what these are. As you read on, you should find relevant information to enable you to make informed decisions.

Coal Burner Fireplace: Multi-Use

Coal fireplaces aren’t just restricted to coal as the only source of fuel. These types of fireplaces are designed for solid fuel combustion. Solid fuels in this sense encompass both wood and coal.

So, with your coal fireplace, you can still use the same to burn coal while also burning wood whenever you deem fit.

Most coal fireplaces come with a cast-iron frame. Such frames support a hanging grate which includes a door. The door comes in handy as it seals off the fireplace when it’s not being used.

Coal Fireplaces Are Generally Outdated

Coal fireplaces aren’t as common today as they used to be in the past.

As a matter of fact, most homes having coal fireplaces are over a century old. If you’ve found or recently purchased a home having a coal fireplace, you might want to reconsider putting it to use.

This isn’t great news for those excited to bring it back to life. However, the truth remains that coal fireplaces have unlined chimneys. We all know the benefits offered by chimney liners include protecting your home from fire damage.

Other benefits include the prevention of moisture and creosote as well as increasing a home’s energy efficiency. A lot of improvements have been made over the last century. Today, chimneys and fireplaces function much better and more efficiently than they used to.

The need for coal fireplaces has seen a sharp decline over the years as most homes being built today adopt more recent innovations. This should bring up many questions like “what do I do with my coal fireplace?”

  • Is there a Way to Still Use a Coal Fireplace?

We’ve made it clear that coal fireplaces are outdated as newer and more efficient heating methods have emerged.

When you call a chimney sweep for an assessment of your coal fireplace, you’re likely to be told that it shouldn’t be used.

One of the main reasons will be the absence of a chimney liner.

The several benefits of liners make them very essential.

A good question may arise “how were coal fireplaces and chimneys used in the past without liners?”

If these were used then, can’t they be used today? These are valid questions and provide a critical look at chimney conditions then and now. Most chimney sweeps will provide you with detailed assessments that will support their position of not using your coal fireplace.

The only way to safely use a coal fireplace is to have your chimney lined. A stainless steel chimney liner will serve just fine. Although this might cost you, it’s a worthy expense to ensure your coal chimney remains in perfect working condition.

Using Your Coal Fireplace the Right Way

Your coal fireplace can still be put to good use if you insist on using it.

Also, rising energy costs are making people reconsider other heating alternatives including fuels like coal. However, caution must be observed as coals are known to give off carbon monoxide.

This gas can be poisonous. Get anthracite coal as this is considered the cleanest with the fewest impurities.

Anthracite coal also has the most energy density of all coal types and comes with a sub-metallic luster.

  • Only Use When A Liner is Installed

Having a chimney liner is very important. Recall we made mention of the many benefits attached to its use. Buildings or structures with coal fireplaces are more likely to be over a century old.

So, having the chimney liner installed gives your building the needed protection from fires and other forms of hazards.

  • Call For Maintenance

Your coal fireplace may require maintenance especially if it hasn’t been used for a long period.

Consider calling the experts to inspect the condition of the fireplace. Common issues due to poor fireplace maintenance include smoke leakage and sparks among others.

When fixed, you can use your fireplace more easily and as frequently as necessary. You also have a responsibility to keep your fireplace functioning efficiently. You may want to begin by installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Other measures include keeping combustible materials as far off as possible from your coal fireplace. These range from furniture, rugs, carpets, or plastics among several others. Call for scheduled inspection once each year to detect and address any problems

Ash from coal-burning should be cleaned as frequently as necessary to avoid blockage to airflow.

Consider using only high-quality coal. Anthracite coal combust more efficiently with less pollution caused.

An adequate supply of oxygen is needed to aid coal burning. Therefore, consider having an opening or cast iron gate that allows for the free flow of air. The better your coal burns, the less carbon monoxide it emits. This enhances your safety.

Igniting a coal fire should be done systematically. This should be added little by little until it properly ignites.

Stacking up too much coal at the beginning will only lead to inefficient ignition of the fire.

  • Alternatives

When it comes to coal fireplaces, there are options to consider when you need to make modifications. You might want to install an insert into the space to use alternative fuels. It all depends on what works best for you.

Make inquiries from the right quarters on what alternatives you have.

This article provides you with tips on how to use your coal fireplace. Although it has gone out of fashion, it continues to be an option for homeowners. By sticking to basic safety guidelines, your coal fireplace should function effectively.

We recommend you seek expert advice by calling the professionals in for an inspection. That way, you stand a better chance of maintaining a functional coal fireplace.

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