How to Tell What Type of Fireplace You Have
In the minds of many people, a fireplace is a fireplace. It’s true, all fireplaces create flames with wood or gas and bring some level of warmth to a room. But no two fireplaces are the same. If you’re moving into a new home with an existing fireplace, or if you would like to know more about the fireplace currently in your home, here are some details.
These are the “standard” fireplaces – large and open and capable of producing amazing flames. It’s hard to beat a traditional masonry fireplace for visual appeal, but the low level of heat they produce can be disappointing. Unless they’re fitted with gas logs (see below), masonry fireplaces are wood-burning appliances and therefore require professional cleaning, inspection and maintenance on an annual basis.
Having built-up creosote cleaned out of the flue greatly reduces the chance of a chimney fire. Yearly inspections ensure that all parts of the chimney and fireplace structure are safe and performing well.
Fireplace inserts are always found inside the fireboxes of open masonry fireplaces. Inserts are factory built and specially designed to produce high levels of heat. They offer the benefit of easy installation – no construction or modification of the home is necessary.
Because they are placed directly into an existing firebox, a new gas or wood fireplace insert gives you an instant upgrade in beauty and performance. Your fires still burn in the same location within the home, but they burn so much better, with heat-efficiency ratings often as high as 90%, depending on the model.
Gas zero-clearance fireplace
A zero-clearance (ZC) gas fireplace is a self-contained unit that is installed in a wall. People who prefer heating with gas enjoy heat-efficiency ratings of 85% and more from these units. This rating tells you how much heat generated by the appliance will be available as heat for your home as opposed to going up the chimney.
Gas fireplaces need minimal maintenance. An annual service call from a certified hearth professional is usually all that’s required. Because gas burns clean, there’s no accumulation of creosote in the vent pipe, which comes with the fireplace.
Wood zero-clearance fireplace
Like gas ZC fireplaces, wood-burning versions are ultra-insulated and safe to be installed in virtually any wall in the home. Another similarity is the high level of heat these units produce, typically having heat-efficiency ratings of above 80%. (Compare to the 10% to 20% common with traditional masonry fireplaces.)
Because they burn wood, these appliances require annual vent-system cleaning to remove flammable creosote and soot. It’s also wise to have the fireplace inspected annually to ensure that it’s safe and working at peak efficiency.
Gas log set fireplace
Modern gas log sets look amazingly like real wood and can be placed in an existing wood-burning masonry fireplace. Gas logs are virtually maintenance-free, but over time they can become damaged by shifting and cleaning and may need to be replaced. When professionally installed, gas log sets are safe and provide beautiful aesthetics.
As you can see, there are a variety of different kinds of fireplaces, each with its own benefits and maintenance requirements. No matter what type of fireplace you currently have or will have in your new home, Magic Mountain Chimney Sweeps of Frederick, MD, offers expert, certified chimney sweep services as well as complete fireplace/chimney inspections and all levels of repair work. Call us for fast, trusted service at (301) 695-6991.