Fireplaces

A traditional heat source

Many would agree that not much compares to the smell and crackle of a traditional wood-burning fireplace. However, wood-burning fireplaces experience more heat loss than natural gas, propane or electric fireplaces. Natural gas, propane and electric fireplaces with fake logs mimic the ambiance of a log-burning fireplace almost identically and are more efficient heat sources.

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Gas fireplaces run on either propane or natural gas and can be attached to your home fuel source. There are vented and non-vented gas fireplace models. Vented gas fireplaces send gases that are produced during usage outside. In vent-free fireplaces, the gas and moisture produced stay in your home; however, a hotter flame is used and the gas produced is minimal. Still, it's a good idea to install a carbon monoxide detector close to the gas fireplace for safety.

Propane and natural gas fireplaces generate the greatest amounts of heat throughout a home, and they will still perform during blackouts. Many come with with handy electric ignition starters that make starting a fire clean and easy. Electric fireplaces look the same as gas fireplaces, but since they don't actually involve combustion, there are fewer safety concerns. Most electric, propane and natural gas fireplaces can be set via thermostat at the desired temperature.

Corner fireplaces are available as well as with free-standing models. You can also get a gas or electric fireplace for outdoor use. These fireplaces can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand.

Fireplace Accessories

Years ago fireplaces were the primary heating sources for homes. Although they are still often used for heat, fireplaces are now more often used as decorative pieces. One element of a fireplace which allows you to be creative is the mantelpiece. Some fireplace mantels are shelves only, while others surround the entire fireplace.

Some fireplace mantelpieces are handcrafted, while others are pre-assembled. Handcrafted fireplace mantelpieces can be ordered and custom-designed by you. Fireplace mantelpieces come in various materials such as marble, sandstone, granite and wood. They are also available in various sizes, styles, colors and sizes. Fireplace mantelpieces can range in price from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand online, depending on the work involved and the materials.

There are also various fireplace accessories and tools available that are functional as well as decorative. You can get match holders, wood holding baskets, log holders, pokers, buckets, shovels, grates, hearths, tongs, bellows, brushes, scrubbers, smoke guards, pans, mirrors, ash holders, ash vacuums, coal holders, fire backs, damper hooks, draft stoppers, rugs, andirons and fireplace screens.

Fireplace accessories and tools come in various materials such as brass, metal and iron. They also come in many decorative designs, styles, colors and sizes. They range in price from just a few dollars for match holders, up to a few hundred dollars for larger fireplace accessories such as screens and entire fireplace tool sets.

Woodstoves

Nothing makes for a snuggly winter night in like curling up with your beloved by the woodstove. Woodstoves are making their reappearance in many residential homes thanks to soaring fuel costs. A woodstove can be used in conjunction with a furnace to cut down on heating costs, energy consumption and wear and tear on your furnace.

In addition, woodstoves are seen as an environmentally friendly method of residential heating. Unlike your coal- or gas-burning furnace, wood-burning stoves burn a renewable resource, one that we can constantly replenish.

For your family's safety, remove any excess ash that may clog the woodstove's intake vents regularly. Your woodstove and chimney should also be thoroughly cleaned and inspected yearly. Small woodstoves start at approximately $450 online.

Outdoor Fireplaces

Adding an outdoor fire pit to your backyard patio is an excellent way to extend the outdoor season a little longer. Fire pits come in various shapes and styles, but the most popular tend to be cast-iron fireplaces, copper fire bowls and grated cylinders.

You'll pay the most for a cast-iron fireplace, but it will withstand heat better than any other outdoor fire pit. Cast-iron fireplaces stand upright and have hinged doors, removable lids, chimney stacks and grills for cooking.

Add the beauty of a copper fire bowl to your patio. A copper fire bowl can be used for a backyard campfire or a backyard cookout. Just attach the steel grill overtop and roast some hot dogs or marshmallows. Grated cylinder fire pits are less decorative, but they have wheels so they are mobile. These also double as outdoor cookers.

These types of fire pits range from $80 to $500 online.

Chimineas

In the late 1990s, chimineas started popping up in backyards across North America. Chimineas are trendy outdoor fireplaces made either of clay or cast iron. Clay chimineas are handmade, and they must be lined with sand or volcanic rock to prevent them from cracking due to extreme heat. Cast-iron chimineas are usually self-assembled. They are stronger in construction than clay chimineas and reflect that in price.

Both clay and cast-iron chimineas are only meant for small fires, but cast iron, and some copper models, will sustain heat better than clay models.

Children and pets must be watched closely around cast-iron or copper chimineas as their outside surfaces become blistering hot when harboring a fire. Chimineas can be found online for between $150 and $400.

Outdoor Hearths

Potentially the most popular outdoor fireplace is a propane hearth. These portable hearths heat with propane gas and have faux logs to simulate an actual wood-burning fire. They cost between $200 and $600 online.

For a more permanent source of heat, a free-standing brick, stone, stainless steel or cement hearth can be built right on your back patio for all-season usage. Wood-burning hearths with grill grates can be used as part of an outdoor kitchen, or an electric, propane or natural gas insert can be incorporated into a hearth structure for between $200 and $400 online.

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