TIPS + TOOLS

Also on CTV News at Noon: Adding warmth with a fireplace

January 24, 2018

Once the anticipation of the holidays is over, we suddenly realize that there’s a lot of winter left. One way to beat the winter blues is by adding warmth with a fireplace. In the second part of his appearance on CTV News at Noon, Amsted President Steve Barkhouse talks about how to go beyond adding warmth visually.

Fireplace options

There are many options available today and your choice depends on what you’re looking for from a fireplace.

Wood-burning
  • Only 10-30% efficient as a heat source
  • Comes with the mess of bringing wood in, storing it and removing ash after
  • Requires monitoring
  • Is more about creating ambience
Gas log system
  • Ceramic log with a gas burner below it
  • Allows you to use your existing fireplace and chimney
  • As inefficient as wood
  • Creates ambience without the cleanup
Gas insert
  • Hotbox that slides into existing opening
  • Run lines from the box to the top of the chimney (bringing in outside air for combustion, inefficient hot air going back out)
  • Ceramic glass seals fire off from the room
  • Creates radiant heat at about 70-80% efficiency
  • Also allows you to use existing fireplace and chimney
Free-standing stoves
  • Must be placed on non-combustible flooring, otherwise, nothing has to be built
  • Must have space to run vent upwards a couple of feet, and then out an exterior wall
  • Options:
    wood: still very inefficient
    gas: sealed unit makes it significantly more efficient
    pellets: fueled by sawdust pellets, but run on electricity. More efficient than traditional wood, and provides that wood-burning feel.
Gas fireplaces
  • Your best option, especially if you’ve already got gas (natural or propane) in the home
  • Many units will continue to run in a power outage
Electric fireplaces
  • Many options for free-standing or wall-mounted units
  • No venting needed
  • Will generate some heat, like a space heater
  • Primarily for ambience

Things to consider

There are a few things to keep in mind before you decide on an option.

  1. What is the fireplace’s main purpose: Heat, aesthetics, or a combination of both?
  2. Consider the room you want to heat: Fireplaces are designed to heat the room they’re in. If you’re trying to save on heating costs, this will result in an overheated main room, and you likely won’t use it as often.
  3. Determine how you want to operate your fireplace as there are many options available: wall switches; remote controls; thermostats; manual; smart-phone apps. If you’re looking for heat efficiency, consider a thermostat-controlled, self-modulated fireplace that will turn itself up and down to regulate the room temperature.
  4. Is gas an option for your home? If you already have access to gas (natural or propane), this will be your most efficient option. If you don’t have gas, are you willing to run lines for the fireplace? If not, be prepared to look at other options.
  5. Review trim options and consider those that best suit your decor.
  6. When you’re close to a decision, view the fireplace you’re considering while the flames are inactive and active. You want to like the unit in both variations.
  7. If going with decorative logs, choose a set that leaves some breathing room around the fireplace area.
  8. If you want to upgrade an existing unit, consider stove paint to cover the brass finishes, and replace logs with decorative FireGlass options.

For more information and all the help you need in making your fireplace decisions, visit our friends at The Fireplace Center.

In the previous CTV segment: Creating warmth this winter in your living room and family room.