Q- How do I make my current fireplace more efficient?
A- Traditional masonry fireplaces are not efficient. They draw air up the chimney whether you are burning wood or
gas logs. The only way to make them more efficient is to stop or slow the air draft going up the chimney. A wood
burning insert, gas direct vent insert, or a vent-free log are the best 3 options.
Q- What is an insert?
A- An insert is a fireplace box that is made small enough to fit into your existing masonry fireplace. The gas versions
have aluminum liners to bring in combustion air from outside and an exhaust liner. They add heat without any loss from
the room. Typically they have a fan system to force air around the box and kick heat out into the room. A surround or
back plate is used to cover what is left of your fireplace opening. Wood inserts have a single stainless steel exhaust
liner running up the chimney. Wood inserts have a small air inlet hole which takes just enough air from the room to
keep the fire going when the door is shut. It burns the wood at a slow rate (7-12 hours on a load of wood). They also
have fan systems to kick out the heat. This puts intense heat out with very little draft. The drawbacks are: your viewing
area of the fire is reduced, if you have nice glass doors they have to come off, and they are fairly expensive.
|Frequently asked questions
Price range $1700.00 - $3500.00
plus installation. You will need gas
line, electricity, and liners pulled
down the chimney.
Wood burning insert
Price range $1200.00 - $3500.00
plus installation. You will need liner
pulled down the chimney
Price range $249.99 - $800.00
plus installation. You will need a
Q- What about this third option? I've heard vent free logs have a lot of drawbacks?
with the damper completely open. These logs are 99.9% efficient and have oxygen depletion systems engineered into
them. We recommend opening the damper 1/4 inch in a traditional fireplace. By leaving the damper vent open a little,
you will never smell the odor that is sometimes complained about, and still maintain a very high A- Vent free gas logs
(also called vent-less, non-vented) are tested to run with the damper completely closed or with the damper completely
open. These logs are 99.9% efficient and have oxygen depletion systems engineered A- Vent free gas logs (also called
vent-less, non-vented) are tested to run with the damper completely closed or into them. We recommend opening the
damper 1/4 inch in a traditional fireplace. By leaving the damper vent open a little, you will never smell the odor that is
sometimes complained about, and still maintain a very high efficiency. You will not have to modify your chimney, glass
door, or fireplace opening size and look. The drawbacks: the fire is not as realistic looking as vented gas logs, you may
have to install a fireplace hood to push the heat away from a close fireplace mantel.
|Fireplace shown with a fireplace
hood. These really deflect the heat
$59.99 to $189.99 plus installation.
Will glass fireplace doors improve my efficiency?
A- Grate blowers and fire backs help you attain more heat while fire is going. Typically the room you are in gets warmer,
but from a heating and cooling stand point, the draft is still taking most of the air up the chimney. Lyemance dampers and
glass doors help with your overall homes efficiency when the fire is not going. Glass doors are recommended to be open
when the fire is burning at a high rate. Glass doors are tempered glass, not ceramic, so they can only be shut when the
fire is dying down.
Top mounted lyemance dampers stop
cold and hot air from getting into the
chimney. They are easy to operate.
Price range $149.99 - $299.99.
Cozy grate heaters can push as
much as 40,000 BTU of heat into
the room from the fire. They are
available for vented gas logs and
wood. Price range $429.99 -
Fire backs reflect and radiant heat
from the fire into the room.
Q- What if I do not want to modify my fireplace with inserts, or go with the vent-free gas logs?
A- The best vented gas log on the market is the Massive Oak by Monessen Fireplace. It has the beauty of the vented
logs, and puts about 20,000 BTU back into the room while it is running.
Massive Oak by Monessen vented gas log.
This innovative burner design really throw a
noticeable amount of heat into the room
without giving up any looks. Price range for
complete kit $419.95 - 539.95
Q- My fireplace does not draw well, and I get smoke or fumes coming back in. What can I do to remedy this?
A- First, make sure the chimney is clean and the damper is opening completely. Second, draw is controlled by 2
factors: the size of the chimney flue or stack should be 1/10 the square inches of the opening face of the fireplace,
and the chimney has to be tall enough (2/10 rule) to get air flowing over the top which create and upward draft.
Some houses have been added onto, and the chimney
does not meet the height requirement. Some times you have to
increase the height of the chimney. If you have a large opening and
a small chimney size, you can reduce the size of your fireplace opening
by using a smoke guard or fireplace door that covers some of the
|Adjustable Smoke guard by HYC
Q- I am putting on an addition or would like to add a fireplace to the room. What is the best option?
A- Basically it strongly depends on what your goals are based on heat and looks. Your architectural design may limit
your options. Choices are as follows: Electric: Not very realistic looking, but can go almost anywhere. It is expensive to
run the heater element of the unit. The flame part is created by a light bulb. Gas Direct Vent: Easiest efficient, and are
heater rated. The fire is behind a sealed glass. Vent-free fireplaces: Very flexible on location, put out tremendous heat.
Works best as a supplemental heat source in older less tight houses, and in larger areas that have plenty of cubic feet of
air space. Typically only low powered 10,000 BTU units can be used in bedrooms. B-vent or Natural Vent Gas Fireplace:
has to vent up through roof, least efficient or the gas types. They typically have weak looking flames. Wood burning
Prefab: has to vent up through roof, least efficient. They can not be put in bedrooms. They can burn gas or wood.
|Q- Why is there such a price range in fireplace doors?
A- Glass doors have 3 categories. Stock is the least expensive where the sizes and colors are fixed. These door
manufactures can mass produce the product keeping the price down. Special Order is the next price category. The
sizes are fixed, but the color, screen options, and glass color can be specified. They have to put these doors together
one at a time with stock components. Custom doors give flexible, size, frame options, screen options, and glass color.
Arch fireplace, corner, and inside fit fall in this category. These are pretty expensive because you can specify any
option, and the factory spends weeks custom making all the parts from scratch. Most glass doors are made with
tempered glass, but the frame materials type, a gauge vary widely.
(right) Stoll Fireplace Custom Arch door
with window pattern $1395.99
(left) Alpine Stock Door $249.99