Inserts & Stoves*
Many open fireplaces are decorative in nature, designed more for aesthetics
than efficiency. These days, fireplaces can burn natural gas (gas logs)
or even propane. Some of the new electric models offer amazing realism.
Gas models are available that have the same efficiency rating as central
furnaces. These gas models have a broad range of heating capacities; some
even offer ducting and heat circulation systems that make it possible
to heat a substantial portion of your house.
Any gas fireplace
requiring a flue or ventilation pipe to exhaust combustion by products
is referred to as a vented system. Traditional vented systems (sometimes
referred to as B-vent or natural vent) require ductwork routed through
a masonry chimney, through a chase, or left exposed. But unless additional
combustion air is supplied, traditional vented systems draw warm air from
the living space to feed the fire. (photo1)
don't need a chimney or a vent through the roof because they expel harmful
combustion by-products (carbon monoxide, for example) through the wall
of the house. By using a system of two pipes, one inside the other, direct-vent
appliances draw fresh combustion air into the firebox from the same hole
in the wall through which they exhaust harmful by-products. A fixed glass
panel is critical to keeping the combustion system isolated from the home,
but warm air still can be driven with fans into the living space. The
direct-vent approach makes for a relatively easy installation.
are easy to install because they don't require a hole in the wall. They
are designed to standards of near perfect combustion, resulting in more
than 99% efficiency. Hence, manufacturers claim that vent-free fireplaces
produce no harmful by-products.
systems are not without controversy. They have been outlawed in same states
because of fears that if these units are not installed, maintained, and
operated correctly; they could release harmful combustion by-products
into the home.
fireplaces don't have a flue, the water vapor they produce as a by-product
of combustion adds humidity to dry interior air, which can be a good thing.
However, it also can result in condensation problems on windows. Manufacturers
suggest an adequate supply of fresh air to combat this condensation. In
newer, tighter homes, providing adequate fresh air may mean installing
separate ductwork, which defeats the advantage of a vent-free system.
Vent-free fireplaces will warm a room considerably, but the heat level
can be difficult to regulate.(photo2)
all need a Healthy Indoor Environment
is not healthy. Wood smoke contains a mixture of gases and fine particles
that can cause burning eyes, runny nose, and bronchitis. Fine particles
can aggravate heart or respiratory problems, such as asthma, in people
of all ages. Even limited exposure to smoke can be harmful to your health
particularly to the health of children, the elderly, and those with chronic
To protect your health and that of everyone who shares your home:
Never burn household garbage or cardboard. Plastics and the colored ink
on magazines, boxes, and wrappers produce harmful chemicals when burned.
Never burn boxes, and wrappers. They can produce harmful chemicals when
Never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood because it releases
toxic chemicals when burned.
Never burn ocean driftwood, plywood, particleboard, or any wood with glue
on or in it. They all release toxic chemicals when burned.
Never burn wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood.
Never burn garbage in a wood stove or fireplace.
The traditional pot-bellied stove is a thing of the past - today's wood
stove models feature improved safety and efficiency. They produce almost
no smoke, minimal ash, and require less firewood. EPA certified wood stoves
burn more cleanly and efficiently, save you money, reduce the risk of
fire, and improve air quality inside and outside your home.
Practical Tips for Building a Fire
Once your certified stove is properly installed, building an effective
fire requires good firewood (using the right wood in the right amount)
and good fire building practices. The following practical steps will help
you obtain the best efficiency from your wood stove.
Season wood outdoors
through the hot, dry summer for at least 6 months before burning it. Properly
seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow
when smacked against another piece of wood.
Store wood outdoors,
stacked neatly off the ground with the top covered.
Burn only dry,
well-seasoned wood that has been split properly.
Start fires with
clean newspaper and dry kindling.
Burn hot, bright
Let the fire
burn down to coals, then rake the coals toward the air inlet (and wood
stove door), creating a mound. Do not spread the coals flat.
Reload your wood
stove by adding at least three pieces of wood each time, on and behind
the mound of hot coals. Avoid adding one log at a time.
Use smaller fires
in milder weather.
EPA recommends that you have your chimney professionally inspected and
cleaned each year to remove the creosote and keep it in
good working condition.
Instead of logs, pellet stoves burn a renewable fuel made of ground, dried
wood and other biomass wastes compressed into pellets. They are some of
the cleanest-burning heating appliances available today and deliver high
overall efficiency. Because they pollute so little, pellet stoves do not
require EPA certification; some manufacturers, however, voluntarily seek
this certification. Unlike wood stoves and fireplaces, most pellet stoves
need electricity to operate, and can be easily vented through a wall,
unlike log-burning stoves.. Pellet burning stoves for the most part look
like normal wood burning stoves. But the stove components are much more
sophisticated, but don't worry the operation by you isn't. Pellet burning
stoves burn pellets for it's heat source.(Photo3)
These pellets can be purchases by the pound for around $3 per 40lbs. Typically,
one would load around 30lbs to 130lbs of pellets into a device called
a "hopper" which holds the pellets. Each pellet burning stove
will vary in the size of the hopper. Obviously the bigger the hopper the
more pellets you can load and the longer the stove will provide heat.
Some stoves have automatic lighting and others may require you to light
the stove. Then a device will transfer the pellets from the hopper to
the heating chamber on a controlled and automatic system using an internal
thermostat to gauge the heat and when more pellets are needed to be added.
Then, air from the room is sucked in from a built in fan which is then
transferred through the heating chamber. The hot air is then distributed
back into the room or through your vent system of your house.
Residue gasses from some pellet burning stove are transferred to the outside
of the house through a small tube that's located on the top or behind
the stove. If you do not want to go through the hassle of installing this
tube, I recommend that you buy one with out it.
Gas stoves are designed to burn either natural gas or propane. They emit
very little pollution, require little maintenance, and can be installed
almost anywhere in the home. Today's gas stoves feature large, dancing
yellow flames and glowing red embers that are nearly identical in appearance
to a wood fire. They can be vented through an existing chimney, or direct
vented through the wall behind the stove. While some models do not require
outside venting, EPA does not support their use due to indoor air quality
If you rely on your fireplace for added warmth on cold days, consider
a fireplace insert. They are similar in function and performance to free-standing
stoves, but are designed to be installed within the firebox of an existing
masonry or meal fireplace. Municipal installation codes now require that
a properly sized stainless-steel liner be installed from the insert flue
collar to the top of the chimney. The result is better performance and
a safer system. You can choose from inserts that burn wood, pellets, or
gas that provide the same safe efficiency as their stove counterparts.
EPA certified wood and pellet burning inserts are available. Some fireplace
inserts include state-of-the-art features such as fans and thermostatic
controls (depending on the fuel). (photo5)
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