What Kind of Fireplace Do I Have and What Fuel Should I Use?

What Kind of Fireplace Do I Have?

The type of fireplace you have can be determined by various factors.

Traditional wood-burning fireplaces have a pilot light, a chimney that extends through the roof, and typically do not have a damper.

Direct vent gas fireplaces, commonly found in homes built after 1995, have a sealed glass panel on the front and are operated by a wall switch or remote.

Vent-free fireplaces are for high heat output and do not have a chimney or vent pipe.

Knowing the type of fireplace is essential for ordering parts or scheduling service, and Elegant Fireside and Chimney King can assist in determining your fireplace needs.

Key Points:

  • The type of fireplace can be determined by various factors.
  • Traditional wood-burning fireplaces have a pilot light, a chimney, and no damper.
  • Direct vent gas fireplaces have a sealed glass panel and are operated by a wall switch or remote.
  • Vent-free fireplaces have high heat output and no chimney or vent pipe.
  • Knowing the type of fireplace is important for ordering parts or scheduling service.
  • Elegant Fireside and Chimney King can assist in determining your fireplace needs.

Did You Know?

1. The first recorded use of a fireplace dates back to the 14th century, when a fireplace was used primarily for cooking food rather than heating the room.
2. Fireplaces that are built into the wall and have a chimney extending through the roof are known as “masonry fireplaces” and are considered the most traditional and authentic type of fireplace.
3. Gas fireplaces became popular in the mid-20th century as a more convenient and efficient alternative to wood-burning fireplaces, as they eliminate the need to chop firewood and clean out ashes.
4. Electric fireplaces, which use electrical heating elements to produce both heat and flame-like effects, were first introduced in the 1980s and have gained popularity for their ease of installation and energy efficiency.
5. Rumford fireplaces, named after inventor Benjamin Thompson, also known as Count Rumford, are an older style of fireplace known for their shallow and wide design, which allows for more efficient heating and better smoke draw.

Wood Burning Fireplaces And Gas Conversions

Wood burning fireplaces are the most common type of fireplace found in homes. They provide a cozy and traditional ambiance, with the crackling sound and scent of burning logs. These fireplaces are typically made of sheet metal and have ceramic walls. They are often covered with brick, tile, or stone, giving them an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

One advantage of wood burning fireplaces is their ability to be converted to gas. This is achieved by installing a gas log set, fire glass, or gas insert. By making this conversion, homeowners can enjoy the convenience of a gas fireplace without the hassle of hauling and storing firewood. Gas fireplaces also offer higher heat efficiency and cleaner burning.

When considering a gas conversion, it is essential to choose the right type of gas appliance for your fireplace. Gas log sets are the most common and mimic the appearance of burning logs. Fire glass creates a contemporary look with small pieces of colored glass that burn with a clean flame. Gas inserts are more advanced and offer additional features such as remote control operation and adjustable flame height.

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Identifying Masonry Fireplaces

Masonry fireplaces are a popular type of fireplace that are constructed using brick or stone, known for their sturdy and durable build. One distinctive feature is the chimney, which extends through the roof to vent smoke and flue gases out of the home.

These fireplaces are versatile and can be adapted to different appliances and accessories. Homeowners have the option to choose among various fireplace inserts, such as wood-burning stoves or gas inserts, to customize their fireplace. Additionally, decorative mantels and surrounds can be added to enhance the appearance of masonry fireplaces.

Identifying a masonry fireplace is relatively simple. Look for the presence of a chimney that extends above the roofline. The exterior of the fireplace will be constructed of brick or stone, giving it a distinct solid feel. It is important to consult a professional when considering modifications or additions to a masonry fireplace to ensure the structural integrity and safety of the system.

Gas Burning Fireplaces: B-Vent Or Natural Vent

Gas burning fireplaces are specially designed for use with gas as the fuel source. They cannot accommodate solid fuels such as wood or coal. The most common type of gas appliance fireplace is the B-vent or natural vent fireplace.

B-vent or natural vent fireplaces are primarily decorative in nature and are not designed to provide substantial heat. They are often used in rooms where ambiance and aesthetics are the main focus. These fireplaces have a sealed glass panel or face on the front and can be operated using a wall switch or remote control.

Some B-vent fireplaces have an operable glass door, allowing for the damper to be opened and closed manually. Others may feature a solid glass panel with air gaps to allow for proper ventilation. These fireplaces are typically found in homes built before 1995 and are a popular option for those seeking a visually pleasing fireplace without significant heat output.

Understanding Traditional Wood-Burning Fireplaces

Traditional wood-burning fireplaces have a long history and are known for their timeless and cozy ambiance, making them popular for gatherings and relaxation. When identifying such fireplaces, several key characteristics should be considered.

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Key Characteristics of Traditional Wood-Burning Fireplaces:

  • Medium to low flame: These fireplaces typically feature a moderate to low flame, creating a cozy and comforting atmosphere.

  • Pilot light: A pilot light is always present in traditional wood-burning fireplaces, providing a constant ignition source.

  • Chimney: The chimney of a traditional wood-burning fireplace extends through the roof and can be identified as a vent with a diameter of approximately 4-8 inches in the attic.

  • Open damper: Unlike some other types of fireplaces, traditional wood-burning fireplaces do not require a damper to be manually opened and closed. Instead, the damper is usually in a fixed open position to ensure proper ventilation during wood burning.

To ensure the safe and efficient operation of a traditional wood-burning fireplace, regular chimney inspections and cleaning by a professional chimney sweep are essential. These measures help prevent the buildup of creosote, a highly flammable substance that can pose a fire hazard if left unchecked.

Introducing Direct Vent Gas Fireplaces

Direct vent gas fireplaces are a modern and popular choice in the fireplace industry. They offer several advantages over traditional gas fireplaces, making them a preferred option for homeowners.

One notable feature of direct vent gas fireplaces is the sealed glass panel or face on the front. This design ensures a safe and efficient combustion process, with no air leakage from the room into the firebox. The sealed design also eliminates the need for a damper, simplifying operation for the user.

Direct vent gas fireplaces are known for their high heat output, effectively heating small to large areas. They can be operated using a wall switch or remote control, providing convenience and ease of use. These fireplaces always have a pilot light, ensuring that they are ready for use at any time.

If considering a direct vent gas fireplace, it is essential to consult with a professional to determine the appropriate size and placement for optimal heating efficiency. Professional installation is recommended to ensure proper venting and safe operation of the unit.

Vent-Free Fireplaces: High Heat Output Applications

Vent-free fireplaces are designed for applications where high heat output is the primary objective. These fireplaces do not require a chimney or vent pipe, as they are specifically designed to be used with vent-free appliances. It is important to note that vent-free fireplaces cannot be altered in any way and must only be used with compatible vent-free appliances.

Vent-free fireplaces are known for their extraordinary heat output and are often used as supplemental heating sources in areas like basements or large open spaces. They operate by burning gas or propane and utilize advanced combustion technology to minimize the production of harmful byproducts.

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When considering a vent-free fireplace, it is crucial to follow all safety guidelines and regulations. Adequate ventilation and air exchange are essential to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide and other potentially harmful gases. Regular maintenance and inspection by a professional are necessary to ensure the safe and efficient operation of vent-free fireplaces.

Understanding the different types of fireplaces is vital for homeowners when ordering parts or scheduling service. Whether it is a wood burning fireplace, a masonry fireplace, or a gas burning fireplace, each type has its distinct features and requirements. By identifying the type of fireplace they have, homeowners can receive accurate assistance and pricing from fireplace professionals like Elegant Fireside and Chimney King.


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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I have a fireplace?

To determine if you have a fireplace, start by examining the walls of your home. Look for any protruding structure made of stone, brick, or another material that could resemble a surround. Additionally, carefully inspect the edges of the unit and examine if there is a backing plate. If you can remove it or observe gaps behind it, this may indicate the presence of a fireplace insert.

How do I know if I have a gas fireplace?

To determine if you have a gas fireplace, inspect the side of your house for a vent or termination. If there is a vent present, it is likely that you have a gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces utilize either direct vent or natural venting technologies, both of which directly vent outside the house instead of using chimneys. These venting methods ensure the safe release of exhaust gases from the fireplace.

What is the most common type of fireplace?

Gas fireplaces have become the most common type of fireplace in recent years. With the convenience of being able to turn it on with a switch, these fireplaces require less maintenance and offer a clean and efficient heat source. Although they may lack the nostalgic ambiance of a wood-burning fireplace, their ease of use has made them a favored choice for many homeowners.

What is a standard fireplace?

A standard fireplace is a traditional wood-burning fireplace with dimensions typically around 36 inches wide, 36 inches tall, and 20 inches deep. These dimensions can vary slightly based on personal preferences and space limitations, with widths ranging from 32 to 48 inches and heights ranging from 30 to 42 inches. This type of fireplace provides a cozy ambiance and warmth to a room, using wood as the fuel source for a classic and timeless experience.

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