Traditional wood fireplaces and stoves have been used for centuries. Traditional fireplaces are very inefficient in heating a room, as they primarily use radiant energy to provide warmth. Traditional fireplaces and stoves use the air from the room to provide oxygen for combustion. Wood fireplaces are available in a wide variety of styles and building materials. Wood burning stoves also are available in a multitude of styles colors and features, based on your heating needs. Wood burning appliances require a class A chimney. The chimney may be built of masonry or of double lined steel. There are options to consider for both wood burning fires and wood burning stoves.
Wood Fireplace Options
Traditional fireplaces, constructed of firebrick and mortar, are designed to burn logs. The styles and sizes of fireplaces are as varied as the architects who have designed them. Traditional fireplaces are usually built onsite utilizing brick masons, cinder blocks, fire brick and ceramic flues. The chimney of the fireplace needs to extend above the highest point of the roof to avoid downdrafts. The size and weight of a traditional fireplace requires a substantial and stable foundation. Usually traditional fireplaces are built during new construction.
Fireplace inserts have gained in popularity, as they are much cheaper and lighter than traditional fireplaces. Fireplace inserts are built in factories and shipped pre-assembled to the home, resulting in less labor costs for installation. Wood fireplace inserts also are designed to be installed next to wood materials, with close clearances, allowing wood framing to be used in chimney construction. Many metal fireplace inserts have air ducts and fans to increase the amount of heat transferred from the fire.
Both fireplace inserts and traditional fireplaces require the installation of flame proof hearth on the floor. The hearth is required to prevent logs that may roll out of the fireplace from setting the floor on fire.
Wood Stove Options
Traditional wood burning stoves are made of cast iron. Antique stoves are not air tight, preventing accurate regulation of the fire. Because the flame is hard to regulate, more heat is lost in the flue gases, reducing the stove's overall heating efficiency. The thick cast iron used in construction of older stoves allows an extremely long useful life. Stoves built in the early 1800's are still in use with little restorative work. An ornate antique stove from the Victorian era could have been a main architectural feature of a house.
Airtight stoves became popular during the 1970's because of their greater efficiency. One load of wood could be set to burn all night. The advantage of the airtight stove is in the long burning time and greater fuel efficiency. Less heat is lost up the chimney. Also, modern airtight stoves have catalytic converter options that help reduce the amount of creosote and other unburned gases going up the flu.
Both types of wood stoves need to be placed on fireproof surfaces. Because of the radiant heat emitted, adequate clearance of the stove from flammable walls, floor materials and fabrics needs to be maintained.
Both wood burning fireplaces and stoves provide an impressive architectural feature for a room. A well built fireplace or stove could be an added source of heat for your house.