Hey everyone! I've been a longtime lurker and reader of these forums. I decided to finally pull the trigger and register. So... my name is Scott. Currently residing in the Fox Valley, WI (northeast). I'll apologize in advance for the lengthy post! My wife and I bought our first home in April. Hooray! It's a single-story ranch home at approx. 1,400 sq. feet. We have a wood burning masonry fireplace in the living room and we also have a wood burning masonry fireplace in our Unfinished basement. The previous homeowners left us some firewood but it was terribly old and has really been used for our fire pit in the backyard. I salvaged a few of the better pieces and we lit a fire in the fireplace in the living room at the end of April after we moved in. After the fire had been going for approx. an hour or so, there was an apparent smell of smoke in the basement. It wasn't filling the room, but it was certainly apparent. We have not lit any additional fires in either of the fireplaces. The home inspector gave the chimney a clean bill of health, but we are having a dedicated chimney/fireplace specialist come out to our home in a couple of weeks to do a full sweep and inspection. I spoke to the specialist over the phone and described the problem that took place upon lighting the fire and he advised it may be a damaged flue and/or some "negative air pressure" in the home. He advised after the inspection and sweep, he would perform a smoke test... although, I'm not quite sure what really any of that means. My apologies... I'm a newbie. Anyone else experience anything like this with two fireplaces in their home? Despite the smoke issue in the basement, we obviously realized the terrible inefficiency of our wood burning masonry fireplace. How awful! The fire was hotter than heck when standing near the hearth, but did little to nothing to actually warm our living room. Aside from the ambience and the obvious cool factor of having a fireplace, I'm quickly learning these things can really do more harm than good. I found this forum after speaking to a local store who specializes in fireplaces and recommended the discussions that take place here. That was about a month ago when I realized winter is coming... like it or not. I talked with him for several minutes and had varying discussions. I initially went there looking for glass doors for our fireplace as right now, there is a simple protective screen and that is it. Then we started talking about a grate with a built-in blower... and then he showed the likes of an efficient wood burning fireplace insert and t'daaaaaaah! Here I am. My wife and I are now essentially scrapping the glass door / grate blower concept and saving pennies for a wood burning insert. I'm convinced this is the way to go after seeing (and feeling) several units perform. How people managed to stay warm using a masonry fireplace way back when is beyond me. I'm still not sure I entirely understand what actually takes place within the fireplace aside from the obvious that a HUGE percentage of the heat is going right up the chimney. We're currently looking at some various small / medium inserts (Lopi Answer and EnerZone 1.8 and a couple of others) A friend of mine helped me take down a 25' - 30' Birch Tree that was dwarfing our tiny front yard and leaning scarily towards our home. We chopped it down in mid-May and it has been stacked up under a tarp in our backyard ever since. I got a crash course in wood splitting from that same friend last week and decided to tackle that project today. I can say without a doubt it is the most fulfilling, satisfying hard work I've ever done. Just knowing this small wood pile will be used to keep my wife and I warm is phenomenal. A few cuts, scrapes and bruises later, I managed to accumulate this pile. I have a newfound respect for homesteaders and individuals who are seasoned veterans at this. I worked through this using a 10lb. maul and for the more difficult, knotty pieces, I used a 5lb. wedge and our 10lb. sledgehammer. Needless to say, I'm exhausted but it truly is exhilarating to look out the window at what I was able to accomplish today. I know we'll need A LOT more wood to get us through the winter, but am focusing on getting the chimney checked out and swept and also the wood burning insert. I'll also be investing in a moisture monitor at some point in time as it looks like quite a few of you utilize one to help stack and arrange your wood pile... which is an art in and of itself, if I may add! Regardless, for my first time, it will have to do. I suspect I'll learn more and pick up certain tips as time goes on... I'm looking forward to learning as much as I can in regards to the art of wood, wood burning and heating our first home this winter! Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!