Over the past several decades, we’ve seen a major decrease in the number of new homes built with fireplaces. However, the desire for a fireplace hasn’t gone down for most homeowners.
Instead, many homeowners do desire a fireplace but don’t have fireplace experience. If this sounds familiar to you, you’re in the right place.
Today, we’re going to talk all about the basics of owning and using an indoor fireplace. As one of Philadelphia’s oldest fireplace stores, we know a thing or two about fireplaces old and new.
Ready to learn more? Read on for our guide to indoor fireplace knowledge 101.
Common Types of Indoor Fireplaces
First, let’s talk about the most common types of indoor fireplaces that you can install or retrofit in your home. Retrofitting is the process of installing a new fireplace in an existing wood-burning fireplace, which is a great way to upgrade an old home.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the basics and pros and cons of wood-burning, gas, and electric indoor fireplaces.
A wood-burning fireplace is what we tend to think of first when we imagine indoor fireplaces. As the name suggests, they use wood for fuel.
Wood-burning fireplace pros:
- ambient sounds, smells, and appearance
- functional in a power outage
- easy to convert to gas or electric if desired
Wood-burning fireplace cons:
- requires cleaning after each use
- requires additional tools to build and maintain fires
- requires a steady supply of wood
To use a wood-burning fireplace, you will need a working and safe chimney.
A gas fireplace is connected to your home’s existing gas hookup. They often look like traditional fireplaces and are a common retrofit option.
Gas fireplace pros:
- strong heat output and efficient use of gas
- can be turned on and off with a switch or remote
- realistic look and feel
Gas fireplace cons:
- no ambient sounds or smells
- requires a gas source
- requires professional installation and maintenance
Many gas fireplaces will require a chimney or other form of ventilation. However, there are ventless options on the market.
An electric fireplace doesn’t need anything but a source of electricity. While professional installation is recommended, you may be able to install one on your own.
Electric fireplace pros:
- easy installation anywhere in the house
- no ventilation required
- can be turned on or off with a switch or remote
Electric fireplace cons:
- doesn’t add the same boost in property value as a wood-burning or gas fireplace
- can’t operate without electricity
- less efficient heat output
Electric fireplaces do not produce real flames, which means that they don’t create fumes. As a result, this is the only fireplace that will never require a chimney or ventilation system.
Fireplace Maintenance FAQs
Now, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about fireplace maintenance. Fireplace maintenance will depend on the type of fireplace you have as well as its age. Professional fireplace maintenance is almost always the way to go, but understanding how your fireplace works can help.
How Often Should I Clean My Chimney?
If you have a chimney, you’ll need to commit to having it professionally cleaned once a year, even if you don’t use it often. Chances are, you can tackle sweeping out the hearth on your own (and should do so after each use), but due to their height and potential fragility, you’ll want to leave the deep cleaning to the experts. Annual cleanings will ensure chimney safety and prevent the buildup of creosote, which can cause chimney fires.
Is My Old Indoor Fireplace Safe to Use?
If you purchased an older home that already has a wood-burning or gas fireplace installed, you’ll need to have it inspected. A professional will need to ensure that your chimney or alternative ventilation system is still working and will keep your home from filling with toxic fumes. Oftentimes, it’s cheaper to buy a retrofit fireplace than renovate an extremely old or damaged fireplace.
How Often Does My Fireplace Need Maintenance?
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you should have it inspected alongside your chimney on an annual basis to ensure that there are no cracks in the masonry or other defects. Gas fireplaces also require an annual inspection to assess the state of the gas log and vent and to clean the glass, which can become dirty and dusty and, in some cases, develop a white film. Electric fireplaces require the least amount of maintenance and you can often wait until they show signs of wear, like lower heat output or trouble turning on and off.
What Safety Equipment Do I Need to Use My Fireplace?
No matter what kind of fireplace you use, you should install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Note that while electric fireplaces do not emit carbon monoxide, they can start fires by overheating flammable objects nearby.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you will need a screen to protect members of your household from touching the flames or getting overheated. If you have pets or small children, you may want a screen or some other blockade to keep your little ones away from the glass, which can get quite hot.
Come to Dreifuss Fireplaces for Your Indoor Fireplace
Many new homeowners want an indoor fireplace of their own but don’t have a ton of experience with them. With this guide, you can decide which type of fireplace is right for you and prepare for life with a fireplace.
Ready to start shopping for your new fireplace? Dreifuss Fireplaces is here to help. Contact us to learn more about available fireplaces and start planning your custom fireplace installation.