Did you know 1 percent of Americans use firewood or wood pellet fireplaces during winter – and you’re considering joining them. You could get an electric model, but you want a traditional fireplace.
You won’t be satisfied until you’ve got the kind you must throw a few logs on to keep burning. Contrary to your belief, getting around a chimney installation is possible.
A woodburning fireplace needs ventilation, but this function doesn’t require a chimney. If you’re confused, don’t worry, all the answers are below. Keep reading to find out whether you need a fireplace chimney.
Do I Need Chimney Installation?
You’ve decided you’re getting a fireplace. But now you have the critical question, “Do I need a chimney?” The answer is somewhat complicated.
Technically, you don’t need a chimney for a woodburning fire. Chimney installation isn’t necessary, regardless of your appliance or fireplace. What you do need for your woodburning fireplace or stove is a flue.
Chimney vs. Flue: What’s the Difference?
You may have heard the term “flue” before. However, it’s understandable if the word got lost among the various fireplace terms. To start, chimneys and flues are related but not the same.
A chimney is a structure that connects fireplaces to the outdoors. You’re likely familiar with the brick structures jutting from the tops of some people’s homes.
The flue is what’s inside the chimney. Specifically, a flue is a cavity inside the chimney that moves smoke and gas from the fire out of your house. You can think of the chimney as a shell surrounding the flue vent.
Flues don’t have to be inside chimneys. Many fireplaces and wood stoves use simple flue pipes. A flue pipe is simply a vent without the chimney surrounding it.
Here’s one way to look at the relationship between chimneys and flues. A chimney needs a flue to operate safely, but a flue doesn’t need a chimney.
Chimneys without interior vents will leak gases, heat, and smoke through the brick and mortar. The vent keeps heat and smoke from reaching and igniting combustible materials like wooden beams, studs, and drywall.
This is why flues are also called chimney liners. They serve as barriers that keep your home safe from potential fires.
Internal vs. External Flue Systems
If you want the aesthetic appeal of a large stone fireplace, opt for a new chimney. But there is a more straightforward solution. You can have a twin wall flue system instead of a fireplace chimney.
A twin wall flue system is a group of steel pipes that transport fumes and heat outside. The flue unit consists of a thickly insulated stainless steel pipe inside a second outer tube.
The copious insulation ensures the internal temperature is warm enough for the gas to move through the pipe outdoors. There are two kinds of twin wall flue systems: internal and external.
Internal Twin Wall Flue Systems
The installation team will attach the internal flue system to the stove and inside your home through the ceilings and outside the roof. Internal vent systems stay warmer than external ones.
The higher temperature will help push fumes outside more efficiently. Better venting means your woodburning appliance will operate more smoothly. However, the flue must be boxed, which can take up space upstairs.
External Twin Wall Flue Systems
External flue systems connect to your woodburning fireplace or stove and exit through an exterior wall. The piping goes up the side of your house, and the exhaust empties near your roof (or other safe enough distance away).
Unlike their internal counterparts, external systems don’t use as much of your house’s space. The flue is also less visible. But cutting through an exterior wall requires repairs and can be more costly.
Why is Chimney Ventilation Important?
We’ve discussed whether you need chimney installation for your new woodburning fireplace. Now we need to talk about why ventilation is essential.
The byproducts from burning wood can be hazardous if left to accumulate inside your home. Wood smoke can contain benzene, formaldehyde, and acrolein.
Benzene can keep bone marrow from producing red blood cells and compromise the immune system. Formaldehyde can result in respiratory issues, and acrolein causes dizziness and nausea.
Woodburning fires also emit carbon monoxide, which is dangerous and potentially fatal. Headaches, dizziness, weakness, and upset stomach are all symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
A chimney or flue helps keep the dangerous smoke and fumes out of your house. Flues and chimneys work because hot air rises. Fire heats gases and smoke, which causes them to lift out of the chimney opening.
Perhaps some of you may have opted out of a woodburning or traditional fireplace. You’re not interested in building a chimney or flue system. But you still want a cozy fireplace – so what do you do?
You can try a ventless fireplace instead. These gas-powered fireplaces operate by taking indoor air for combustion and exchanging it for a small amount of carbon monoxide.
Provided you have enough fresh air, the amount of carbon monoxide is negligible. However, installing a carbon monoxide detector when using a vent-free fireplace is a good idea.
In Need of a New Chimney?
You don’t need a new chimney installation, but you do need ventilation of some sort to operate your woodburning fireplace or stove. Flue systems will also remove harmful gases and smoke from your home.
If you want a new chimney or woodburning fireplace, contact us at Dreifuss Fireplaces. We’ve been installing fireplace units since 1876, so you can count on reliable, convenient service.