Types of Fireplaces

Fireplace and heating

Fireplaces are a wonderful addition to any home, adding both atmosphere and practical Heating to any space.

The electric fireplace is more of an atmosphere piece, since there is not any actual fire. These are 'mock' fireplaces built to mimic a wood burning fireplace with hearth and mantle, but without the fuss of caring for a real fireplace. This type of fireplace will plug into an electrical socket and produce electric heat along with a simulated fire using lights and plastic logs. They are convenient, affordable and can be placed in any room there is space without worrying about altering the home in any way.

The traditional wood burning fireplace (or wood burning stove) requires a chimney and flue system to vent smoke from the burning logs it uses as fuel. Periodic inspection and cleaning is required to ensure the soundness of the chimney lest it become a fire hazard. As well, the hearth needs to be cleaned of ash from time to time but despite the work involved, a wood burning fire is a wonderful source of heat and atmosphere in any room. Placement of a wood burning fireplace should be considered at the time of construction as installation into an existing home can be quite invasive.

More of a modern invention, the gas burning fireplace uses natural gas for fuel and is a very efficient source of heat. Still needing a chimney to vent, a gas fireplace lacks a traditional hearth and is usually controlled by an electronic thermostat. Inspection should still be done on a regular basis, but gas fireplaces are usually sealed devices and no cleaning is required as natural gas burns clean without producing ash and soot like a wood burning fireplace.

Understanding the Different Types of Gas Fire

For many people a gas fire is just a gas fire, however, there are several different types and a host of designs. Depending on the style of your property and your heating needs, you should be able to find a suitable solution for your situation, even if you thought that installing a gas fire wasn’t possible.

The majority of gas fires have a conventional flue. What this means is that the gases created as a result of burning the gas are expelled from the back of the fire into a chimney or flue pipe. This usually passes up through the roof of the house and vents to the outside. This type of fire is most likely to be installed in an existing fireplace.

Gas flame

Many modern homes don’t have a chimney though, and installing a conventional flue would cause considerable disruption. Fortunately there’s a solution in the form of balanced-flue fires, these vent through an outside wall via a horizontal pipe that also draws in air to feed the combustion process. Because they need a relatively small hole thought the wall, they can be fitted with minimal fuss.

Balanced-flue fires are usually glass-fronted to create a closed system, but open versions are also available. These use an electrically powered fan to draw the combustion gasses out through the flue so that they don’t enter the room.

Finally there are free-standing, flueless gas fires. These work without any kind of external flue, converting poisonous gasses back to carbon dioxide and water, but this does mean there are some restrictions on where they can be used. Free-standing fires usually need a minimum room size and a certain level of ventilation, so it’s important to take advice and understand the requirements before buying.