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What you should know about fireplaces

Interior photo of a living room with a wood burning fireplace

As the weather turns cold across the country, people across the Triangle are turning up the heat and using the fireplaces found within in their homes. It’s no wonder, either. Fireplaces are not only great for warmth, but they add an undeniable ambiance to a home. As people are spending more time at home through the pandemic, having the right fireplace can create a comfortable space where you can relax, entertain, or simply warm up your home with style.

Whether your current home has one or you’re looking for a new home with the elegant look of a fireplace, it helps to understand the pros and cons of different types that are available. Here’s what you need to know about the types of fireplaces and how to decide what’s right for you.

Wood-burning fireplaces

One of the most traditional types of fireplaces is one that burns wood. For many, nothing beats the glow and crackle of wood burning in your fireplace. If you live in an older home in the Raleigh-Durham area, your home may have a wood-burning fireplace, either indoors or outdoors. These types of fireplaces offer a distinct experience and can even provide a unique design aesthetic for your home, especially when accented with wood that’s been stored for those cold days.

Older fireplaces may not be as efficient for an indoor setting, however. If you do have an older home, you may want to consider modernizing your wood-burning fireplace. Contemporary fireplaces meet EPA regulations and are designed with efficiency in mind. The right fireplace may even be able to be installed in an existing wall cavity to reduce costs. Keep in mind you’ll have the costs of wood and maintenance involved in a wood-burning fireplace, so even if you love its aesthetic, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of this type of fireplace.

Gas-burning fireplaces

The great thing about a gas-burning fireplace is how realistic and low-cost they can be. Gas fireplaces are a modern addition to outdoor living spaces as well as inside of the home. Unlike wood-burning fireplaces, these types burn natural gas while still providing a similar ambiance and warmth of one that burns wood. Natural gas tends to be an affordable alternative to wood, and because there’s no soot or flue to clean every year, you’ll save money without sacrificing the fireplace you want for your Triangle home.

If you currently have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s possible to replace it with a gas insert. Contact a professional to discuss where to begin installing a gas fireplace.

Electric fireplaces

An electric fireplace might be one the most cost-effective types of fireplaces available for a home. They work like an electric heater, powered simply by plugging it into your wall, but still providing you with the look and feel of a traditional fireplace. There’s minimal upkeep for an electric fireplace, which makes it benefit for both indoor and outdoor living spaces.

Electric fireplaces, like their gas-burning counterpart, can also replace an older wood-burning fireplace. In fact, if you live in an older home in the Raleigh-Durham area, replacing your fireplace with an electric one can be a quick and easy DIY project. With the right electric fireplace, it’s as simple as plugging it in and being done!

Ethanol-burning fireplaces

If you want real flames for your fireplace, you may want to consider ethanol as an option. Ethanol-burning fireplaces are growing in popularity because they are powered by sustainable fuel, made from corn. These fireplaces work by adding this smokeless fuel to the burner, creating a real flame from this clean-burning product.

Because ethanol fireplaces don’t need flues or vents, they are great for all sizes of homes, including smaller housing types, such as one of the Triangle’s many condos or townhomes. They can be easily installed just about anywhere both inside and outside of the home, making them a low-cost, affordable, and eco-friendly fireplace solution.

Fireplace safety

The EPA offers great tips for fireplace safety, particularly with wood-burning fireplaces. First, make sure you have any wood-burning appliances and chimneys inspected annually. A clean chimney will reduce the risk of a fire, which is important considering the United States Fire Administration says approximately 87 percent of residential building fires start in chimneys, flues, and flue burners. Next, follow safe wood-burning practices. Make sure you’re only burning dry, wood that’s been split and seasoned, and keep flammable items like books, curtains, and furniture, a safe distance from your fireplace.

Finally, always make sure your smoke detectors are less than 10 years old, that you have a fire extinguisher close by, and that your family has a fire escape plan in place for your home. Following these recommendations will keep your family safe as well as cozy in the winter months as you enjoy your fireplace.

The Jim Allen Group provides access to information on this blog/website as a public service for educational purposes only. Although reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all of the information made available is current, accurate, and complete…[read more]

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