Question: I'm buying a house with a fireplace, I intend to have it inspected. I'm reading safety info on-line because I've never owned a fireplace. I know to make sure the fire is out before I retire and I know not to close the flue with hot ashes. How do I get the fire to go out? Answer: There is no good way to make the fire go out, except for time. Live coals will stay hot for a surprisingly long time -- sometimes days. However, depending on your level of comfort with the process, the fire can be left to go out overnight as long as the hearth is protected by a screen. Removing combustibles from nearby is just common sense. Unfortunately, sometime during the night, your fireplace may become a "de-heater," when the warm air in the house begins to rise up the flue. This was the problem that led to the invention of the iron stove. While some fireplaces are fair heaters, an open fireplace requires a consistent fire to be anything more than decorative. To increase the practicality of your fireplace, you might consider adding an insert. These "stoves in a fireplace" retain most of the ambience of an open hearth, but are far more efficient heaters. They can be safely left with a fire overnight, and because of their more sophisticated draft system, won't act as an air conditioner. If ambience rather than heat is your goal, you might consider the range of gas inserts. While they are not as economical as wood or coal heaters for space heating, the convenience can't be beat. Many will operate without electricity, which makes them a good stand-by in case of power loss. The industry has made great strides in both realism and esthetics in the past few years, so there are models to fit every decor. There are even a few inserts that burn fuel oil, which has more energy per gallon than LP or natural gas. Oil inserts are not as attractive, in my opinion, but are solid performers. They have been popular in Europe for years.