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Wood Burning Fireplace Informaiton

For many people there’s nothing like the look, smell and feel of a wood burning fireplace. Now, thanks to over a decade of research and development, a wood burning fireplace can offer you much more than just a cozy atmosphere. Its ability to soothe the soul while generating a deep penetrating and relaxing warmth within your home is unrivaled by any other hearth product.

Three Main Types

A traditional wood burning fireplace (either masonry or factory-built) is what most people own and the type most people associate with the term “wood burning fireplace”.  Now there are two newer high efficiency fireplaces.  Clean-burning and EPA-certified (by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) fireplaces produce less than 7.5 grams of particulates per hour and are more technologically advanced than the traditional types.

Now you can expect heat, convenience, energy independence, security and a low-cost way to control heat loss and reduce emissions to improve winter air quality.  Make your fireplace a real asset, adding value to your home and increasing your resale value.

Which one is right for you?

Your fireplace will become a focal point in your home. Be sure to spend the time necessary to choose the right one based on your expectations for performance.  If you require plenty of heat, the best choices are the EPA-certified or the Clean-Burning. Because these fireplaces are insulated, closed combustion systems (their glass doors must be kept closed during operation) they burn more efficiently and generate substantial amounts of heat. Depending on the cost of firewood, they can be a good choice if you experience frequent power outages or your home heating costs are high.

Traditional fireplaces, of course, are open combustion systems which don’t need to have glass doors and are perfect for occasional fires for ambiance or the crackling sounds and aromas of the Yule log. This type is chosen mainly for looks.

What is EPA certification?

EPA-certified and Clean-Burning models are designed to increase combustion efficiency and reduce smoke emissions.  If wood burning is regulated in your area, they can be used all season long.  You may be able to install a Traditional style here but you may also be responsible for limiting smoke emissions by using seasoned firewood or manufactured logs.

How to Choose

Like any appliance, consider your own needs and preferences when you shop.  Visit a local store that carries the brand you like, ask the dealer or your friends and relatives for recommendations.  Our friendly, specially trained sales staff is here to answer all your questions whether it be about design or the more technical aspects of specific manufacturers.

Check Points
  • Type: Traditional, Clean-Burning and EPA-certified.  Traditional and Clean-buning units can be masonry or factory built. EPA-certified models are much like wood stoves and are factory built.
  • Size: Ranges from small to extremely large based on customer preference and heat requirements.
  • Location: Most areas of North America are able to install them, although some may have restrictions on emissions and would be better off with the EPA-certified or Clean-Burning types.  The HPBA recommends installing in the center of the home for better draft and performance, though they are commonly seen installed on outside walls of a home.
  • Venting:Naturally vented 3 feet above the roof of a house or a minimum of 3 feet above any point within a 10 foot radius.  Depending on the model selected, a masonry or stainless steel, Class A type, all-fuel chimney system can be used.
  • Features: 2, 3 and even 4 sided models are now available including arch-shaped and one panel glass doors to allow full view of the flames.  Finishing options can include brick, stone, tile, marble, mantels or surrounds.
  • Installation: The HPBA recommends using a certified professional installer to ensure meeting all state and local codes.
  • Maintenance: Just annual inspections by a certified chimney sweep to keep creosote build up to a minimum.
  • Fuel Requirements: Firewood should ideally be split and dried for 6 months or more. Manufactured logs can be used also.  They can actually reduce emissions by more than two-thirds. Use sawdust-only firelogs in all types and wax/sawdust logs in Traditional and Clean-burning only.
  • Average Cost: Add to the price of the unit, the costs of the chimney, installation, delivery, annual fuel and maintenance costs.
Benefits
  • Ambiance or zone heat, depending on type chosen
  • Provides heat when the power goes out
  • Cost-effective control over heating bills
  • Use of a renewable fuel
  • Minimal emissions to protect winter air quality

Source:  HPBA.org