If your home has an open masonry fireplace, you may want to consider having a fireplace insert installed. A fireplace insert is a fireplace contained in a metal box that converts your home’s inefficient, masonry fireplace into a gas, wood-burning, or pellet stove. Many homeowners in the Washington DC Metro Area find installing a fireplace insert to be a great option to increase energy efficiency while maintaining the natural beauty of a fireplace. For this reason, many chimney and fireplace companies like ours find fireplace inserts to be in high demand.
How does a fireplace insert work? In simplest terms, a fireplace insert consists of two parts: a steel shell and a firebox. The firebox is designed to contain a fire (and its heat) so that rest of the room is heated with minimal waste. The steel shell surrounding the box helps to improve efficiency. Together, these two components work to make your home’s fireplace safer and more energy efficient.
Types of Fireplace Inserts
There are many different types of fireplace inserts, though a few of the most common types include
Not sure which is right for your needs? Explore some details about each fireplace insert below.
Gas Fireplace Inserts
When you’re looking to convert your fireplace into an efficient and low-maintenance option, gas fireplace inserts are an excellent choice. Some of the key benefits of installing a gas fireplace insert in your home include:
- Unrivaled ease of use! Just flip a switch to get your fire started; no need to buy firewood or pellets.
- Low maintenance! No ashes to clean out after each use and no dangerous creosote deposits to worry about building up.
- More precise temperature control than a wood-burning or pellet fireplace.
- Environmental friendliness! Fewer pollutants released into the atmosphere.
If you’re considering a gas fireplace insert, it is worth noting that the cost of fuel to run your gas fireplace will likely remain higher than the cost of firewood or wood pellets, so this should also be taken into consideration as you make your choice.
Wood-Burning Fireplace Inserts
If you prefer the look of real wood burning and the classic “crackle” of a traditional fireplace, then simply installing a wood-burning fireplace insert could be a wise choice. Some of the top benefits of wood-burning fireplace insert installation include:
- Being able to retain the look and feel of a “real” fire.
- Achieving the smell of wood burning, which many people enjoy.
- Improved energy efficiency when compared to an open wood-burning fireplace.
- Added safety when compared to an open fireplace.
Furthermore, the cost of purchasing firewood tends to be much less expensive than paying for gas or even pellets for a pellet stove. Keep in mind, however, that you will need a place to store firewood inside or outside of your home, and you will need to clean out your fireplace after you use it.
Pellet Stove Fireplace Inserts
For a compromise in benefits between a gas fireplace insert and a wood-burning fireplace insert, a pellet stove insert can be a smart decision. Pellet stove fireplaces operate by burning small pellets of compressed wood for safe and energy-efficient home heating. Some of the critical benefits of a pellet stove fireplace insert are:
- A lack of creosote or other potentially dangerous build-ups.
- Environmental friendliness! Pellet stoves produce very little smoke.
- The energy efficiency of a gas fireplace with a more realistic look and feel.
- Easy maintenance.
Other Important Considerations for Fireplace Inserts
While there are indeed many benefits of having a fireplace insert installed in your home, there are also some important considerations worth keeping in mind before you schedule an installation. For starters, with most types of fireplace inserts, your home will need to have an existing and functioning chimney for safe ventilation of pollutants and gases created as a fire burns. If your home’s chimney is in disrepair, this is something you’ll need to address before an insert can be installed and operated.
Overall, installation of a fireplace insert in your home can be a great way to improve energy efficiency and make your home’s fireplace safer. Now all that’s left to do is decide on the type of insert that best suits your needs and find a reputable company to handle the installation!
The difference between a chimney sweep and chimney inspection is slight but crucial. Cleaning removes the deposits that have built up over time. Inspections are professional examinations of the installation, condition, and structure of your chimney. A professional chimney sweep in Washington DC always includes a basic inspection as part of the chimney cleaning. Chimney sweeps and inspections are both essential to maintaining the safety of your home.
How Often Should A Chimney Be Inspected?
According to the National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 (NFPA211), all fireplaces, chimneys, and vents should be inspected annually to make sure they are safe to use. That means they have no cracks or leaks, no deposits, and are clear of hazards. If the fireplace, chimney, or vent heavily used, it should be monitored more closely because heavy use is naturally going to create more potential for buildup of soot and creosote. All fireplaces must be cleaned every year including gas fireplaces. A cleaning will reveal whether or not a more enhanced inspection is required.
What Happens During Inspections?
Inspections should be done by a chimney sweep professional who is qualified, certified, and familiar with your local codes. They should protect your home with drop cloths in their work area and document what they are doing. Afterwards, you should have a detailed report and an estimate of any needed repairs.
There are three different levels of chimney inspection
- A Level One Inspection is verification of structural soundness and readiness for the use of the chimney. Cleaning should always include a level one inspection. The chimney tech should look for warning signs.
- A Level Two Inspection is commonly part of a real estate transaction. Most home inspectors do not have the skills or tools to inspect a chimney and fireplace properly. As a result, the buyer will hire a licensed chimney company to check the chimney. Level 2 inspections are also done when the homeowner is installing a new home heating appliance or changing the type of fuel. A level 2 inspection should include everything in Level One plus inspection of accessible areas. There should be a video scan of the flue system.
- A Level Three Inspection are required when something has been observed to indicate a need to go into concealed areas. The inspector has to go behind the walls surrounding the chimney and flue to check for damage and hazardous conditions. If this level of inspection is recommended, it is dangerous to ignore the advice.
What Happens During Chimney Cleaning?
- A professional chimney sweep will leave your home cleaner and safer than it was before.
- Since cleaning out soot and creosote is a messy job, they will use drop cloths in the work area to protect your home.
- All deposits and debris are removed from the flue system with tools designed for the task. The whole mess is removed from your home.
- A level one inspection is completed. If minor repairs can be done during the visit and you give permission, there is usually a discount for work done during the visit. Otherwise, an estimate of the repairs that will be needed will be given to you.
- The crew cleans up after themselves, and all that remains is a fireplace or stove in good working order.
Do I Need Both Inspections and Cleanings?
All chimneys should have a chimney sweep including a level one inspection every year. The sweep will determine if a higher level of inspection is needed. Following the advice of your chimney repair technician is essential. Complete any suggested repairs so that you and your family can be safe and warm. Annual chimney sweeps help prevent costly repairs.
Whether you just moved into a home in Washington DC with a wood-burning fireplace or you’re looking to modernize your fireplace in a house that you have owned for years, it might be time to explore the options to convert it into a gas fireplace. A professional chimney sweep company like ours can assist you. In this article, you will learn more about the available options for converting your wood-burning fireplace into an energy efficient gas fireplace.
There are quite a few options to consider.
How will gas reach your fireplace?
You have to consider how the gas will reach your fireplace. If you have natural gas at your home, you can have a gas line run to the fireplace. If you don’t have natural gas and do not want to have it run, then your option is to use a propane tank. Either will work, so it’s a preference based on what you already have at your home.
Gas Fireplace Kit
A gas fireplace kit is something that is relatively simple to install. The damper is locked into a partially open position, which has pros and cons. It means that no one can forget to open the vent, so you won’t have to worry about carbon monoxide threatening your home. However, you will lose some of the heat. Tight-fitting glass doors can be installed to help counteract that problem.
Some kits are more advanced than others, providing you with various features:
- Remove controls
- Decorative hearth
You can choose a kit that works for you and stay within your budget. At first glance, gas fireplace kits appear to be a great low-cost option. However, the heat loss can kill the energy efficiency of your home.
Vent-Free Gas Fireplace
You may also want to explore a vent-free gas fireplace. Your chimney would be for show from now on because no exhaust goes up the chimney. The benefit to this is that you get to have all of the heat inside of the room while still having an open fire. One thing to know is that the combustion exhaust stays inside, so you would either have to create a vent in the home or deal with the exhaust, which could be problematic of people who have asthma or allergy problems. If this is your primary heating system, you will probably want to find an alternative because it’s not recommended to run for more than three hours at a time.
Many installation companies consider vent-free gas fireplaces to be dangerous. The risks presented by gas exhaust entering the home represents a potential health risk that outweighs any benefit of having the stove installed. We do not recommend this option.
Gas Fireplace Insert
One of the best options is a gas fireplace insert. It is the more expensive option out of the three, but it also allows you to enjoy a fire without the worries present with other options. The insert goes behind closed glass doors. However, you can still see the flame and feel the warmth of your fireplace. You won’t have an open fire, and you can leave it running for as long as you want.
There are a few benefits to be aware of:
- The look is tidy
- Glass doors provide a good seal
- Exhaust is piped out
- Gas fireplace inserts energy efficient.
- You enjoy good indoor air quality
A complete insert goes into the opening of your existing fireplace. Only professional installers should be trusted to install gas fireplace inserts. You may want to check out this article that describes the steps in the installation process.
Deciding the Best Gas Fireplace Option for You
Converting from a wood-burning fireplace to a gas fireplace can be a great option. There’s a convenience with gas that you don’t get out of wood. You can quickly press a button, flip a switch, or point a remote at the fireplace to get the heat going.
You have to decide what’s right for your home based on cost, aesthetics, and overall function. We recommended that you work with professionals who can talk to you about the pros and cons that apply to your unique needs. They will also help identify options for the gas lines.
Take the time to explore your options so that the next fire you enjoy can be free of any problems. Making the switch from wood to gas could be the best thing you do for your home this year.
Many homes in the Washington DC area have gas fireplaces. When you own a gas fireplace, it’s important to know about some of the more common repairs. Some gas fireplace repairs can be done on your own while others require the help of a professional chimney sweep company like ours.
Fireplace Burner isn’t Turning On
You may find that when you go to light your fire, the burner isn’t turning on. If the pilot light is still working, it’s likely a problem with the thermostat. The good news is that you can often fix this on your own by checking that the current room temperature is below the thermostat setting.
If the problem isn’t in your thermostat, you may need a professional to help you with several other aspects:
- Faulty wiring
- Dirty orifice on the pilot light
- Thermocoupler needs to be replaced
Once a professional comes out, they can troubleshoot the issue and make the necessary repairs so your fireplace burner can begin working once again.
Fireplace Doors Not Sealing Properly
Often, the glass doors to your gas fireplace might not be sealing properly, which is a relatively simple fix. The first sign that will tell you that your seals aren’t in place is that you will smell the gas coming out of your fireplace. The clips and glass fasteners both have to be in place firmly.
The Ignition Isn’t Working
If you try to start a fire and the ignition isn’t working, you will need a repair of some sort. You may want to check the breaker box first to see if there has been a trip. Otherwise, it may be that you need to open the gas valve to restore the flow. If neither of these issues is the problem, you will want to get a professional in to check on the natural gas lines or the propane supply and to check the function of the wiring.
Gas fireplaces leave soot that can build up over time. You should be cleaning your fireplace on a regular basis so that you don’t get significant soot buildup. Residue can affect the oxygen flow within your unit. There may not be enough oxygen flow, or there might be too much gas flow. Additionally, you should consider getting a professional chimney inspection to find out if any blockages could be causing the problem.
A few other things that you can do for soot buildup
- Adjust the air setting
- Adjust the damper
- Align embers and logs according to fireplace instructions
- Clear off the combustion screen
- Remove leaves and debris from the chimney
When you can get soot buildup under control, it will help your fireplace to last much longer – and look its best, too.
A blower can create a grinding or shrieking noise. It may be an indication that the blower needs work. Loud blowers can be deceptive. Some older models are always louder than newer units. Newer technology has come out to provide fans that barely make any noise. You may want to call in a professional to see what they can do about your existing blower.
The type of gas fireplace you have may determine the kinds of repairs that you will have over its lifetime. For example, there are ventless and vented fireplaces. Unvented fireplaces shouldn’t produce soot.at all. In ventless fireplaces, you may experience odors as a result of such things as dirt, dust, and pet dander that get into the burner and the other components that are responsible for combustion.
Potential gas fireplace problems are the reason gas fireplaces should be cleaned every year. By keeping your fireplace clean, you can keep the unit in better condition. You can also catch problems at their early stages. Do the basics yourself and hire a chimney sweep every year to do the rest.
Want to learn more? Read this article from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).
It’s common knowledge to homeowners in the Washington DC Metro Area that wood-burning fireplaces require regular cleaning and inspections. After all, leftover residue dramatically increases the potential for fire hazards. Many think that having a gas fireplace installed eliminates the need for having their chimneys cleaned every year. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that chimneys al all kinds should be cleaned every year. The truth is that getting your chimney sweep is every bit as important for gas fireplaces. Read on to learn how gas fireplace cleaning and inspection is so essential:
Gas fireplaces can create visible buildup and debris
Although there is less potential for noticeable buildup with a gas fireplace than a sooty wood-burning appliance, it’s still bound to happen over time. The following are just a few examples of damage that you or your chimney sweep technician can observe:
- Deteriorating ceramic logs. Pieces may break off and clog vents.
- Cracked crowns and damaged mortar joints. These allow moisture to enter the chimney and break off flue tiles.
- Residue may appear on the fireplace’s glass doors
- Glass doors can become chipped or scratched, and may require replacement
- Birds may build nests in your chimney, thereby harming ventilation
Gas Fireplaces Can Leave Corrosive Deposits
It’s easy to see when wood stoves and other appliances require cleaning. These fireplaces create ample soot, which is instantly visible upon inspection. With gas fireplaces, the need for cleaning may not be as immediately obvious. That doesn’t mean the need doesn’t exist, however. Natural gas and propane tend to deposit toxic — but invisible — substances. These can cause significant problems for your chimney and pose a safety and health risk. The need for action may not become evident until your gas fireplace is damaged. When discovered late, gas fireplace repairs are much more costly.
Make sure that your gas fireplace is functioning properly
Professional chimney sweeps like ours always check to make sure that every aspect of your chimney is working correctly. They can determine how efficiently and safely your fireplace is functioning. They can also inform of whether a need for repairs exists now or might be needed farther in the future.
With time, valves can slowly develop leaks. Unfortunately, leaks are not very obvious. As a result, these problems may not be examined as quickly as warranted. The same applies to the thermopile and thermocouple, which may show wear over time. During an inspection, your technician can determine the extent of the damage and alert you to a possible solution.
What Happens During a Gas Fireplace Cleaning Inspection?
When your local technician arrives to clean your gas fireplace, you can expect a thorough inspection of every aspect of the appliance. The following are a few of the most critical elements of a gas fireplace inspection:
- The expert inspects the fireplace’s exterior, observing for chips and cracks in or debris on the glass doors, and quality of the general fireplace framework.
- A close look at the interior ignition will determine whether the fireplace lights correctly.
- The face of the unit may be removed to inspect valves beneath the fireplace or insert.
- A thorough cleaning process may ensue, to guarantee the removal of all residue from vents.
- A quick check for your carbon monoxide detectors will determine whether they are correctly in place and functional.
- Your technician will end the inspection by alerting you to any problems that require attention, and how urgent those issues may be.
You love the comfort and beauty your gas fireplace provides, along with its incredible efficiency. A little care and attention can keep your fireplace in working order in for decades to come. If you have yet to schedule your annual inspection, now is the time to get started.