Friday, April 13, 2012

Is This Really The Time To Be Thinking About Your Fireplace?

Yes it is, and this is also a good time to have your chimney cleaned, but that is not what I want to talk about.

With the price of cord wood averaging $300.00 along with the mess associated with operating and maintaining a wood burning fireplace, people who still love the ambience of a fireplace maybe thinking about converting to a Propane fueled fireplace.

Did you know you have three options to choose from? Let me first explain that we do not have ‘natural gas’ on Martha’s Vineyard; we use Propane which does not burn as hot and does not create the same type of ‘big flame’ that natural gas does. To retrofit a gas fireplace to Propane is a simple matter.

The three types of Propane fireplaces are the vented Propane fireplace kit, the vent-free Propane fireplace, and the Propane fireplace insert.

The vented kit is the Propane log type we see so often that you can purchase for around $1000. If you don’t want to control the flame remotely you can safe a couple hundred dollars. The Propane log fire has a very realistic open fire look. The only disadvantage is that the damper in the chimney has to be removed because it is a state code requirement to guard against someone lighting a fire and forgetting to open the vent, which in turn could pump lethal carbon monoxide into the living area of your home. Another disadvantage is heat loss. Without the damper only about 15-20 percent of the heat is returned into the living space. This is about the same as with a wood burning fireplace, but the way to solve the problem is to install tightly fitting glass doors. Adding the doors could add as much as $1500 or more to the price of the installation.

The vent-free fireplace can be installed for under $1000. Vent free means there is no exhaust going up the chimney and therefore the chimney damper does not have to be removed. All the heat remains inside the living space. Health problems have been associated with these fireplaces among people suffering from respiratory ailments like asthma and allergies. Vent free fireplaces should not be operated for more than a few hours at one time which means they are not good sources of heat.

The logs in a vent free fireplace are more economical using less gas than those of a vented fireplace but the flame produced by vented logs looks more realistic.

Finally, we come to the Propane fireplace insert. I have a Vermont Casting wood burning fireplace insert and like the wood burning inserts, the gas insert is costly with an average price today or around $3000. As with the wood burning fireplace inserts, the look of the fa├žade of your fireplace is retained. Inserts are meant to be airtight so you won’t be able to have an open fire. The exhaust fumes are vented outside the house which means the air inside the house remains healthy and you can run the insert indefinitely as there is Propane to fuel it.

Regardless of which option you choose don’t try to install it yourself, call a professional like the people at Vineyard Hearth Patio and Spa in Vineyard Haven. Here is a link to their website:

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