Fireplace Insert Basics
Do you have an old fireplace you no longer use due to maintenance issues or simply because a standard wood fire seems like too much work? If so, then a fireplace insert may be able to give that old hearth new life.
What Is an Insert?
An insert is a self-contained unit that fits into your existing fireplace. It is made of insulated steel or similar durable material, so there is less heat loss into the chimney compared to a standard masonry fireplace. Most inserts are also equipped with fans that help circulate heat from the firebox into your home, unlike a traditional fireplace.
Inserts can be used as a firebox replacement if there is damage to the masonry and tiles inside your traditional fireplace. They are also available in models that use different fuel sources, so you aren't stuck dealing with wood fires if that isn't your preference.
Benefits of an Insert
One of the big benefits of an insert is that you don't need to rebuild a damaged fireplace in order to use it once more. Air leaks in the chimney and cracks in the firebox aren't a concern because an insert has its own firebox and vent pipe. The construction of the box and the heater fan on the insert also prevent heat loss and instead reflect and circulate the heat into your home, increasing efficiency and lowering your home heating bill.
Inserts can also be easier to maintain compared to standard fireplaces, particularly if you opt for a clean-burning fuel source like gas. Even wood and pellet inserts are easier to clean, though, because they burn more efficiently which typically leads to less soot and creosote buildup.
The first choice for any insert is the fuel source. Wood burning inserts are similar to your traditional fireplace, except there is usually less smoke and more efficient heating. Pellet inserts are similar, except they burn special pellets that are made of compressed sawdust and other organic materials. These tend to burn and produce heat very efficiently.
One of the more popular options is a gas insert. These need very little cleaning or maintenance. You can also have a nice fire to enjoy with just the flick of a switch. It's even possible to control the height and size of the flames. Gas inserts are generally hooked into your home's natural gas, but there are also propane models available.
Contact a fireplace dealer to learn more about the options available to upgrade your current fireplace.