Common Mistakes Made By Homeowners With Their Wood Heaters and Chimneys

A wood heater is a great way to add ambience and warmth to your home during those chilly fall and winter days. They also provide great visual interest in the space, giving everyone something to focus on and gather around when you're entertaining friends and family. Many homeowners prefer a wood heater versus a propane heater for the natural look and crackling sound they produce, but may not know how to properly care for the heater itself, or the chimney. Note a few common mistakes homeowners often make with a wood heater, so you can avoid them yourself and know that your heater is always clean and safe and ready to be used.

Metal liners

A metal liner can be added to your chimney so that it gets less build-up of soot and creosote, a sticky substance that gathers around a chimney when you burn wood. While this metal liner can keep your home's chimney cleaner and better protected from build-up, this doesn't mean that you don't need to have the chimney cleaned, as some creosote will still cling to its surface. Your liner installer can tell you how often you should have the liner inspected and cleaned, based on your average usage of the fireplace itself.

Home remedies

Don't assume that burning certain types of wood, using vinegar and water in the fireplace, and other such home remedies are sufficient or even effective for cleaning the heater. A good set of cleaning tools that remove built-up ash and embers, as well as needed cleanings by a professional chimney sweeper, are the best choices for ensuring the chimney is safe for use. While cleaning, a chimney sweeper can also examine the chimney for signs of damage that can create a hazard in the fireplace.


It's a common misconception that certain types of wood will create more creosote build-up in the fireplace; however, the amount of creosote and other dangerous elements that cling to the inside of the chimney usually depends on how firewood is treated before it's burned. Firewood should be dried thoroughly so that it doesn't release creosote, and so that it burns more cleanly, with less ash. Rather than assuming you should just avoid pine or maple or other wood species to keep the chimney clean, protect your wood heater by only buying firewood from a reputable seller, and storing that wood in an airtight container or covering it properly with a thick tarp.