In the past the fireplace was the centerpiece of a home. A large solid brick fireplace was not uncommon in many homes as a centerpiece but also doubled as a heating tool. With modern technology we can now focus on enhancing the fireplace experience; focusing on style without having to sacrifice performance.
A key characteristic of a brick fireplace is that it heats up much more slowly than a more modern wood or gas burning fireplace. In fact most of the heat would escape through the chimney rather than distribute through the home. Modern venting systems allow for a more efficient heat, while maximizing efficiency.
With a wood or gas fireplace you will be able to quickly heat your home to your satisfaction as well as creating a safer environment for your family as a new modern fireplace will not act as a heat sink like an older brick fireplace.
Wood burning fireplaces offer the dancing yellow flames and orange hot coals that give a room a cozy, warm look and feel.
Wood burning fireplaces need to be cleaned after the fire is out and the fireplace cools down. The fine ash needs to be swept up so that any sudden puffs of air coming down the chimney don’t blow it out into the room.
Chimney fires result from layers of creosote, a natural by-product of burning wood formed by carbon compounds and resins in the wood and water vapor building up in the chimney.
Alternatively, natural gas fireplaces are based on newer heat-efficient technology. They offer many obvious maintenance and installation advantages over wood fireplaces.
First of all, there’s no mess from gathering logs, cutting logs, and storing logs. There’s no mess from ash, coal-raking, soot, or creosote issues to clean up after. You can also install the natural gas fireplace almost anywhere in your house.
Because natural gas fireplaces are designed to burn the gas efficiently, the gasses are cool enough to be vented through PVC pipe run through the walls.
Gas fireplaces radiate heat nicely and some contain fans to circulate the heat efficiently. Plus, natural gas is a cheap fuel —get it directly piped or even a modular propane tank depending on your need! It’s one less thing to worry about especially if the wood fireplace option means you need to buy and haul your own wood.
The deal breaker for many, though, is that even though they may enjoy all the work and woodsman expertise about selecting firewood, the dirty truth is that wood burning fireplaces emit 28 lbs of particulate emissions per MMBtus of heat output (soot and ash) as opposed to natural gas which produces up to 99% less (about .28 lbs/MMBtu). This means that natural gas fireplaces pose less of a risk of in-home air pollution.
Wood burning fireplaces might be cozy and soothing (which we all need at some time in the 21st century) and seem a cheap way to heat, but in the end when you look at them terms of expense and efficiency, they are becoming a luxury few can afford to depend on.
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