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Fireplace Buying Guide

Wood Burning Fireplaces

Installation Costs

Operating Costs

Care & Maintenance

Natural & Propane Gas Fireplaces

Installation Costs

Operating Costs

Care & Maintenance

Electric Fireplaces

Installation Costs

Operating Costs

Care & Maintenance

Wood Burning Fireplaces

Installation Costs

If you choose a masonry fireplace your installation costs will be higher due to labor and the higher cost of stone or brick. Manufactured units are faster and easier to install. Ensure a safe and reliable installation by using a certified professional installer. In addition to assessing the construction of your home, he will obtain the necessary building permits and make sure that the installation meets all local and state codes.

Operating Costs

Wood burning fireplaces can be the most inefficient unless steps are taken to increase efficiency. Two newer, high-efficiency fireplaces, Clean Burning and EPA-certified (to burn less than 7.5 grams of particulates per hour), are more technologically advanced and offer a substantial amount of heat. These fireplaces are also good choices in areas with frequent power outages, or where the cost of home heating is an issue.

Care & Maintenance

Guard against creosote build up by burning harder, seasoned woods and monitoring your flue. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) recommends that fireplaces and chimneys be inspected annually and cleaned as necessary by a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Wood burning fireplaces require constant cleaning of ashes and hauling wood. Possible smoke stains on the exterior face if drafting problems develop.

Natural & Propane Gas Fireplaces

Installation Costs

The prices of these fireplaces can range from $600-$2,000 or more depending on size, style, manufacturer and where you purchase. Then add installation and delivery costs.

A gas fireplace can be installed almost anywhere in the home as long as natural gas or propane is available. Always use the services of the most experienced and qualified technician you can find. Licensed plumbers or HVAC technicians are the only ones qualified to run gas lines. Check your local area requirements. Installation can occur along an outside wall or in the middle of a room. Zero clearance construction makes this possible because very little space is needed between the unit and combustible materials.

Operating Costs

Gas fireplaces are generally cheaper and more efficient than wood burning fireplaces. There are many variables in determining the actual costs, such as location of your home, how air tight it is, the size of your room and the cost of gas in your area.

Liquid propane gas contains 2,500 BTU's per cubic foot, natural gas contains 1000 BTU's per cubic foot.

Care & Maintenance

Gas fireplaces are clean burning and require little maintenance. The HPBA recommends an annual inspection by a qualified professional who can inspect the burner, fan, venting, pilot light and thermostat and even clean the glass. Alternately, check with your owner's manual for instructions for cleaning glass doors. Typical glass cleaners are not as effective as products specifically made to clean the stains on the inside of fireplace doors.

The HPBA also recommends an annual inspection by a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Electric Fireplaces

Installation Costs

No real installation costs unless you need to run wiring for an outlet where you want to place this fireplace. The perfect choice for a small office, apartment or where ever you cannot have a flue.

Operating Costs

Costs will depend on your electric rate from your provider.

Most units use approx. 1400 Watts.

Care & Maintenance

Virtually care free. Allows "fire" in the summer by turning off the heating element.