When making a big decision, the more you know, the better. Especially when that decision involves fire or extremely high heat. Arm yourself with knowledge by learning these eight things you should know about fireplaces.
- Fireplaces aren’t Bonfires: The fireplace is no place to get rid of stuff you don’t want anymore. Only burn wood or firelogs in the fireplace. Tossing anything else in there not only poses the risk of releasing dangerous gases throughout the house, but also of causing a roof fire as burning material rises through the chimney.
- Convenience v. Aesthetics: Thanks to thousands of images from the movies and TV, the warming glow provided by a traditional wood-burning fireplace produces a sense of nostalgia even among those who have never owned a fireplace. Just keep in mind that the sounds of crackling behind that cinematic blaze require all the work that goes into maintaining that wood. On the other hand, gas and electric fireplaces aren’t quite as traditionally enjoyable, but are far more convenient.
- Yes, There Still are Such Things as Chimney Sweeps: Cleaning a dirty chimney is one of those less-glamorous parts of the whole fireplace concept that movies and TV shows tend to avoid showing. The good news is that you can still hire a professional chimney sweep to do the job for you. The Chimney Safety Institute of America offers an excellent guide on how to hire a chimney sweep.
- Carbon Monoxide Detector: If you don’t already have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, plan on getting one if you want to install a fireplace. Carbon monoxide is a potentially deadly byproduct of the process of combustion. Any problems with your fireplace that interfere with combustion have the power to fill your home with odorless carbon monoxide.
- If You Can’t Have a Chimney: Even if you live in a home that can’t provide you access to a chimney, you can still enjoy the colorful blaze of a traditional wood-burning fireplace. Even better, you can enjoy all the benefits of a wood fireplace without all the disadvantages. A pellet stove burns cleaner and more efficiently than a wood stove and can be vented through a wall, thus eliminating the need for a chimney entirely.
- Remote Control: One of the things you really need to know about fireplaces is that the gas ones are a real gas to operate by remote control. And things are likely to get even more fun as old-fashioned remote controls are eventually replaced by apps on smartphones and tablets that will allow you to do more than just turn on the heat from across the room. If you are a technology geek who loves gadgets, this option alone makes gas fireplaces more appealing.
- Almost Like the Real Thing: If you want all the heat and beauty of a real fireplace with none of the maintenance or danger of an actual fire, then the one thing about fireplaces you really need to know is the option for an electric version. What you may not know is that some models can be used as a heater without displaying flames as well as displaying flames without dispensing warmth. The more sophisticated models simulate fireplace flames so realistically you will temporarily forget it’s all an illusion.
- Think Outside the House: The iconic image of a family sitting around the hearth and cozying up to the heat produced by a fireplace typically is situated indoors. One of the things you might need to know about fireplaces is that they can look just as good and warm you just as much outside the house. Outdoor fireplaces are a great way to increase the enjoyment of your patio, deck, or pool area.