Fireplace Inserts: Finding one perfect for your house
Fireplace inserts are a way of turning an inefficient, poorly working or otherwise problematic fireplace into a way to get the best use out of your chimney. For those that enjoy the beauty that their fireplace offers but would like to get some heat and possibly some fuel efficiency from it, an insert may be just the way to go. Before you head out to make that purchase just yet, you need to know how to choose an insert and to find out what they can offer you and your home.
What Are They?
These heating units can be installed into a large sized fireplace. Or, they can be placed within the fireplace and then extend and sit on the hearth as well. They are not overly bulky but they are heavy. Often times they weigh upwards of 400 pounds. They can be used in both masonry fireplaces as well as factory built units. The inserts themselves are made of cast iron or can be made from plate steel. They are able to be decorative so that they look as you would like them to. Fireplace inserts can be made to match well with your existing fireplace.
Do I Have To Have A Fireplace?
To purchase these, you will need to have a fireplace of some sort. It should be vented by a chimney or in some other way to an outside all of the home. If you do not have a fireplace, you should consider the purchase of a wood burning stove to get the same or better results of an insert without a fireplace. These can usually be vented out of the home through a vent to an outside wall in the home.
You need a fireplace because the unit will vent the smoke and pollutants from the burning fire up and out of your home. This keeps your living area clean and neat. But, it also provides for a pollutant free ability to use your fireplace. When improperly vented, inserts or fireplaces can cause carbon monoxide as well as many other pollutants to enter a home.
What Do I Need To Do To Purchase One?
When considering the purchase of an insert, it makes sense to first take the time to insure the current structure that you have. You should insure that the chimney is clean and sealed. It should be cleaned professionally each season that it is in use. And, if it is in constant use, you should have it cleaned and checked at least every six months. The reason for this is your safety. You don’t want to have creosote to build up inside the chimney and cause a fire. And, you don’t want toxic fumes coming into your home either.
Next, consider your fuel. Inserts are designed to burn many of the best products out there. The most common, of course, is wood. But, other options include gas and wood pellets. Which should you choose? You should base this decision on your preferences, what you have available to you and which is the most fuel efficient to your needs. For example, wood pellets are easier to handle, burn just as good as or better than wood and are easy to find in most areas. When you look at the cost of gas versus wood in fireplaces, you’ll find that wood may just burn better for you and your wallet. That is in many locations. In others, it may not be a good choice.
Next on your list is to compare the variety of models available. You will want to look for a high quality product that is able to provide you with the most for your money. If you purchase a used or discounted model, insure that it has the necessary EPA certifications or you may be wasting your money. Those that do not have this certification will not be able to be used in most areas. To compare models, visit manufacturer’s websites and learn more about individual inserts. You will want to compare how well they burn first of all. This is the basis for most individual’s choices. You should look at how they are maintained, how much they cost as well as how well they fit your home’s needs and aesthetic looks.
Will It Heat My Home?
Most inserts will not heat an entire home. Like a fireplace, the heat comes directly from the unit and is not forced throughout the home through ventilation. Although there are models of wood burning stoves that will do this, most inserts do not. So, when you are considering the size of the area that fireplace inserts will provide heat for; make sure to check the specifics of each model. In most cases, you will find they are able to provide heat for a small home or several rooms near the unit otherwise. What heat that inserts do provide, though, will be highly efficient air.
Most of the fire place inserts will feature blowers on them. This is a way of providing heat to the room. These will blow heat from the fireplace area to the rest of the room. Many are controlled manually, but there are other options out there that are thermostat controlled. Some have remote controls and wall switches that can easily turn the blowers on or adjust the amount by which they are blowing. Blowers are a good way to push the heat from fireplace inserts throughout the home ore area.
Most of today’s fireplace inserts are efficient, clean burning units. Purchasing and using older models may cut this efficiency quite a bit. And, it is often necessary to insure that the used models are in working order (and well taken care of) before purchasing them. It is a much better choice to look for a fireplace insert that is new and up to date on EPA certifications.
Choosing which fireplace inserts to purchase doesn’t mean that you can forget about them, though. You will need to keep them cleaned from ash (to cut down on ash, use premium wood pellets) and from build up within the chimney and ventilation units. Keeping the glass clean, the seals in place and having it professionally inspected each year will keep it working well for you. Fireplace inserts are ideal if you have a fireplace that needs a little help.
The pros and cons of masonry fireplaces
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