Okay so you want to have a fireplace in your home, and you start looking around at your different options. You notice that there are a couple of different basic options, and you begin to wonder which is best for your home. You can sit down with one of our experts here at Chimney Sweeps of America, and they can explain all the differences to you, or you can keep reading for a quick overview of fireplaces or fireplace inserts so you will have an idea of which is right for you.
Let’s start with fireplaces. A fireplace is what you would traditionally think of when you hear the word fireplace. It is an opening in the wall–emphasis on the word opening–that vents the smoke by way of a flue. Sometimes fireplaces will have glass doors or screens on the front to close it off a bit, but don’t be fooled, it’s still really open.
Fireplaces can be either masonry or factory built. A masonry fireplace is usually built of bricks although fancy ones in houses where the owner has a generous budget can be built out of stone or maybe even tile. The flue and the chimney of this type of fireplace is connected fluidly together. Factory built fireplaces are basically just a metal box that may or may not have refractory bricks inside. Houses that do not have masonry use these. They are almost always used in new construction, being encased in non-combustible materials, and that is a lot of work after the fact. These can be wood burning like the traditional fireplace, but these days, gas is more common. Keep in mind that it is not impossible to install a new fireplace in an already existing home, but you have to be willing to do a bit of renovation to get it done appropriately.
So what about fireplace inserts? What is the difference and what might the benefit be? A fireplace insert is typically used when you already have existing masonry in place. A very common example would be an older home that has a beautiful wood-burning fireplace, but the owners would like to change it to gas or even a pellet burning stove. The insert gets connected to the flue and chimney, so it completely replaces the existing fireplace. They are a very versatile choice for remodeling and updating old fireplaces either just for a new look or to be more energy efficient.
So basically if you have a chimney but no fireplace or an older wood burning fireplace that you want to update a fireplace insert is a great choice. However, if you are building a new home, don’t have any fireplace at all, have an existing gas fireplace or are looking for the most economical option then you should be looking at new fireplaces instead of an insert. Of course, if you have any further questions about fireplaces vs. fireplace inserts our staff here at Chimney Sweeps of America can lay all your doubts to rest and help you heat up your home the perfect way for you.