Is Your Wood-Burning Fireplace Collecting Dust? Ditch the Hassle By Adding A Gas Insert!
While traditional wood-burning fireplaces can be a great addition to any home, over time, they may become high maintenance and impractical. But rather than replacing the entire fireplace or simply letting it sit unused, collecting dust, why not consider simply adding a gas fireplace insert?
This article will explain what a fireplace insert is, go over the different types of inserts and discuss the many benefits of adding a gas fireplace insert to your existing wood fireplace.
What Is a Gas Fireplace Insert?
If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, it can be retrofitted with a gas fireplace insert to heat your home more efficiently and conveniently. A gas insert is a pre-made product that fits into a standard wood-burning fireplace. Inserts sit inside a metal box surrounded by a larger metal box inside the original fireplace. The gas insert heats the air between the two boxes and then emits heat.
Why Add A Gas Insert to Your Wood Fireplace?
Efficiency and Ease of Use
It is quite common for homeowners to install a gas insert into a wood-burning fireplace to make their supplemental heating system more efficient. There’s no need to build a fire, chop and store firewood, or even tend the fire.
You can have instant and long-lasting warmth and comfort with the simple push of a button. Plus, most modern gas inserts offer remote operation, so you can turn on your new gas fireplace from the comfort of your couch – or even from a different room!
Not having to source fuel for your fires will save you time and energy, but installing a gas fireplace insert will save you the hassle of cleaning ash, soot, wood chips, and bark from your fireplace and chimney. In fact, you won’t even need a chimney at all!
Since you don’t need a chimney for a gas fireplace, you won’t lose any heat that would normally be lost through the chimney. Even better, you can get 75 to 99 per cent of the fuel’s energy back as additional heat. Gas fireplaces also heat more consistently, as you won’t need to keep feeding them constantly.
Gas fireplace inserts come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles to suit your home décor. You can even find inserts without the traditional “logs.” Instead, you may want to opt for fire glass, ceramic coal, or even ceramic stones. This could be a simple and inexpensive way to refresh and update the look of your home.
Clean Burning and Smaller Carbon Footprint
Although nothing beats the warm, rustic look, feel and smell of real flame and a wood-burning fireplace, you may not know that wood smoke contains a surprisingly large amount of particulate, such as benzene, formaldehyde, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Research has shown that wood smoke actually pollutes more than most cars.
Gas fireplaces, meanwhile, burn much more cleanly. There’s almost no particulate to worry about and you don’t have to worry about combustion gases affecting your air quality, because the flames are contained in a sealed combustion unit. Gas fireplaces also put out far less carbon monoxide and help prevent destructive logging and forestry practices, as you will no longer need firewood to heat your home.
Wood fireplaces pose a number of safety risks that can be eliminated by simply adding a gas insert. Gas fireplaces are much safer than their wood-burning counterparts – for example, not cleaning your wood fireplace frequently enough can lead to a buildup of soot, ash and creosote, which significantly increases your risk of starting a house fire.
In comparison, a gas fireplace needs next to no per-use maintenance to keep you and your home safe. While they should be professionally serviced a couple of times a year, they do not leave behind any soot or ash like a wood fireplace would.
Other Types of Fireplace Inserts to Consider:
A wood-burning insert is still a popular option for many homeowners. The cleanest wood-burning inserts utilize three-stage combustion burn technology, a process that burns almost all ash, smoke and harmful gases, smoke and ash completely, resulting in a higher temperature burn and limited emissions.
By installing a wood-burning insert into an old, low-efficiency “open hearth” fireplace, you can also increase efficiency and heat transfer. Wood inserts perform best when installed with a properly sized rigid or flexible chimney liner from the appliance vent collar to the chimney termination.
Pellet fireplace inserts are a greener alternative to wood-burning fireplaces. They use a mechanical auger to draw pellets from the hopper into the burn chamber. From there, a mesh lining in the bottom holds the pellets in place while they burn, letting the ash fall into a tray beneath. The pellets are lit by a special igniter and a combustion fan supplies oxygen to the flames.
Most commercially available pellets are produced from renewable and recycled biomass, so they will burn more cleanly and produce fewer emissions than a traditional wood fireplace. It also delivers more intense and consistent heat safely, through a closed combustion chamber.
Electric fireplace inserts are the simplest type of inserts on the market. Because there is no combustion involved, no venting or even permits are required. Just plug it in and go. The only drawback is that electric inserts do not produce real flames, which can be a dealbreaker for homeowners who are looking for a more “authentic” experience. However, they do still provide ambiance and heat and mimic the look and feel of a wood-burning fireplace.
The Importance of Professional Installation
Although inserts and fireplaces come “ready to install,” it’s important to remember that some things are best left to the professionals. Just because it’s pre-made, that does not mean installing your new gas insert should be your next home DIY project.
A variety of factors come into play when installing any kind of appliance, especially one that emits fire. Gas lines can be extremely dangerous if they are not hooked up properly, and if you have a vented unit that is not vented in accordance with local ordinances and best safety practices, you could run into trouble.
Today’s gas inserts use propane or natural gas to power a steady flame dancing on fake logs, decorative modern glass chips or stones behind a sealed glass face. They are designed to maximize efficiency, heat distribution and environmental impact while adding a fresh design element to your home.
There has never been a better time to consider replacing your outdated, open-hearth wood fireplace with a gas insert. Contact us today for a quote!