Your family has found the perfect house to buy; however, no one likes the looks of the living room fireplace. For those looking to give an existing fireplace a facelift, the easiest and most economical way is to install a fireplace insert. Whether you choose a wood-burning or gas insert, you will be improving the energy-efficiency of the old fireplace as well as its appearance. At Bart Fireside, we sell and install both wood-burning and gas fireplace inserts in various styles. Using advice from the Chimney Safety Institute of America, we would like to tell you what you should consider when choosing one of these types of inserts for your easy fireplace facelift.
WOOD-BURNING FIREPLACE INSERTS
While some may prefer the convenience of gas, many crave the scent, sounds, and sight of a wood-burning fire. Wood-burning fireplace inserts can be vented into a masonry chimney or a factory-built chimney that has been tested and approved to use a wood-burning appliance. If you have a masonry chimney, the insert’s firebox will be smaller than the existing masonry firebox, which causes flue problems. As the flue will be disproportionately larger than the new insert, the upper section of your chimney will have much cooler temperatures than normal. When the hot by-products of combustion (smoke, gases, vapors, etc.) are vented into the cooler, oversized flue, these by-products will remain longer in your chimney. The smoke and gases can even drop below the dew point and create large deposits of creosote. Highly combustible, creosote is one of the biggest causes of chimney fires. The best solution to this problem is to install a new stainless steel chimney liner measured to fit the insert exactly. A correctly-sized liner reduces the possibility of large creosote deposits and protects the insert from heat deterioration.
GAS FIREPLACE INSERTS
Easy and convenient to use, gas fireplace inserts generally provide more heat than their wood-burning counterparts. However, the high-efficiency of these gas inserts can cause venting and draft problems in your chimney. Since more heat is being delivered into your house, not enough heat is moving up your chimney to provide the proper draft that makes the venting system work. This issue can be hazardous to the health of you and your family because without adequate draft, combustion cannot be completed. Incomplete combustion can allow carbon monoxide to be produced, and the draft problems can lead to that poisonous gas to be pushed back into your house. Water condensation is another problem due to the lack of heat being pushed through your chimney. Highly acidic and corrosive, this water damages your chimney walls by eating through its bricks and mortar. The chimney liner can also suffer corrosive damage due to water condensation. Again, as with wood-burning fireplace inserts, installing a new, correctly-sized flue liner can solve draft problems, lessen condensation, and keep the corrosive by-products within the liner to prevent damage to the bricks and mortar of your chimney.