It took a little coaxing, but after about an hour the rocks that surround the fireplace insert started to take in some heat and I could get the fans going to move the heat around the living room.
We have not had a chance to have the chimney cleaned this year yet; however, Lisa went up on the roof last week during some better weather inspecting rain gutters (clear) and the general condition of the roof (good), and she looked down the chimney and said it looked pretty good. The pressed-wood fire-logs we burn have the merit of burning quite cleanly, generating relatively little soot or other build-up in the fireplace. They don't produce much ash, either, so we only have to dig ashes out every couple of weeks rather than every two or three days like with much of the other firewood we've tried.
This is more than just a matter of general comfort. When the temps go below a certain point, I lose feeling in my fingers, and given that I make my living at a computer keyboard, that's not a good thing.