Warm up with the right fireplace for your home

June 30, 2015

There's nothing that beats the warmth of a fireplace in your very own home after being out in the cold. Which one is right for you?

Warm up with the right fireplace for your home

Fireplaces and wood stoves are great for anyone who likes the sound, smell and warmth of a crackling fire. They can really help keep heating costs down as well, by lessening your dependence on oil or electrical heating.

Open fireplace

A built-in fireplace can be a source of cozy warmth. But you'll need to take into account certain factors to keep it safe:

  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying out.
  • Install a special fireproof glass panel in front of the fireplace for safety and an unobstructed view of the fire without fear of sparks.
  • Make sure you have the right fireplace tools — bellows and tongs aid in stoking the fire.

Wood stove and fireplace inserts

The contemporary variants of the open fireplace are wood stove and fireplace inserts. In both cases, the fire burns in a closed chamber and is visible through a glass panel. You get all the appeal of a wood-burning fire with none of the danger of sparks or mess from soot. A few things to consider:

  • You can place a wood stove virtually wherever you wish. Today's models come in a range of colours including ivory and crimson red, so you can find one to fit any decor.
  • An insert can help you maintain a traditional look by turning an inefficient masonry fireplace into a wood burner with an efficiency rating of about 70 per cent. However, one disadvantage of wood stoves and inserts is that dust particles from the air land on the stove and burn up there — making the air very dry, even though the fire itself is closed off.
  • Wipe the glass panel regularly with window cleaner, because you just can't prevent the glass panel from collecting soot. Just remember to spray the window cleaner on a cloth rather than directly on the panel.
  • If you're looking for something a little more traditional, opt for a favourite among wood-burners: a cast-iron stove.
  • Look at the efficiency factor of a stove. It informs you how much energy is actually transferred to the surrounding air in a room.

Gas fireplaces and fireplace inserts

Gas fireplaces and fireplace inserts give you the look and warmth of a wood fire, but with the added efficiency and ease-of-use of modern convenience, you can turn them on or off with the touch of a remote control button or wall switch.

  • Choose a gas fireplace to fit the decor of your home. A two-sided gas fireplace makes a lovely room divider, for example. But if you're fond of your antique mantel, you can buy an insert to fit your fireplace rather than replacing the whole thing.
  • Find a certified inspector to check your fireplace periodically for carbon monoxide and leaks. Many municipal governments recommend or require annual inspections. Many utility companies provide a yearly safety inspection service for furnaces and water heaters — ask if they'll include your fireplace.
  • Check the chimney flue for blockages, such as bird nests and leaves, before lighting your first fire in the fall. Remove anything within reach or call a chimney sweep to get rid of obstructions that are beyond your reach.
  • Gas fireplaces don't produce smoke and other byproducts that can be hard on people with asthma or allergies. In addition, they're easy to maintain and don't require you to sweep up ashes or deal with the occasional runaway spark or ember.

Whichever fireplace you pick, they make a wonderful warm addition to any home.

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