|A fireplace is in the top ten list of
wants for home buyers. Before you decide on adding a
fireplace to your home, there are a number of decisions you
will have to make.
Wood vs Gas: There is nothing like the heat from a wood
fireplace, and purists will agree a gas flame cannot hold a
candle to a crackling wood fire.
However, that does not take into consideration the hassle of
gathering or buying wood, which can be very expensive; not
to mention the mess or the storage issues. Gas direct vent
fireplaces are virtually smoke free and can be less
expensive to use than conventional wood. There are also
units that burn pellets, coal, or alcohol and others are
simply electric heaters designed to look like a fireplace.
When selecting your fireplace, you need to determine what
your needs are:
Is heating your home an issue or will the fireplace be used
for aesthetic reasons?
Where will it be located? Todayís units can take up a whole
wall or be nestled into a corner. They can be open on two
sides to accommodate two rooms or act as a divider. You
donít need a chimney if you are putting the fireplace on an
outside wall. Direct venting fireplaces are connected to the
outside by vents which provide all the air needed without
drawing it from the inside of your home. Consult your local
building codes and contractors to ensure the proper
ventilation for the type of fireplace or stove you choose.
What is your budget? A stone or marble fireplace can be very
costly; but there are companies that manufacture cultured
stone. Cultured stone looks and feels like real rock, but is
flat on one side and is easier to install yourself. It comes
in a variety of colors and styles. Another inexpensive
alternative is using tile with a wood mantle. Slate and
limestone are other options for a beautiful fireplace front.
And of course, there is always brick or adobe for a classic
Fireplace basics: There are two types of heat conductors in
fireplaces; radiant and convective. Radiant heat is the
transfer of heat to objects in a room. Radiant heat
fireplaces donít heat the air space between the objects,
just the objects themselves. Fireplaces made with heat
conducting materials, such as brick, ceramic tile, stone, or
adobe produce radiant heat. Additional heat is added to the
room because these material soak up and store the heat,
slowly releasing it into the room as radiant heat.
Conventional open hearth fireplaces, with no air vents, are
radiant heaters. Open hearth radiant fireplaces alone are
inefficient as heat producers because 90% of the heat goes
up the chimney. Radiant cast iron stoves, on the other hand,
can be very efficient heaters, as the cast iron stores and
releases the heat.
Convective heat is created by heating the air and
circulating it around a room. Convective fireplaces and
stoves typically have 2 or 3 walls around the firebox. Cool
air is drawn into these areas by vents and circulated around
the firebox. The warm air is then recirculated into the home
through vents above the firebox. These models produce the
same amount of heat as radiant models, but are more
efficient because they circulate the heated air with fans.
Most gas fireplaces today use convective heat.
Foundation is also an important consideration. If you are
planning on a stone fireplace, you need to make sure it has
enough reinforcement to support it. This should be
determined by your local codes and your contractor.
Buy some books at your local home store for ideas. The
possibilities are endless with todayís technology. Use your
imagination and create a fireplace that showcases your
personality and lifestyle.
Home Tips &