Do you live in a house built prior to 1985 that has a traditional masonry fireplace ? If so, you likely don’t use it a lot and when you do are frustrated with the lack of heat it seems to put into your room. These fireplaces are not designed to heat your room and with the cost of utilities and cord wood many people are investigating options for replacement. How do you know if your fireplace is a factory built wood burner or a traditional site built unit ? Just look outside at the top of your chimney, if you see a clay flue then you have a site built unit.
Consider that at best these open wood burning fireplaces are 10% efficient. If a cord of wood is $450.00. then $400 of your hard earned money is going straight up the chimney. Occasionally we have customers tell us that they get their wood for free so it really costs them nothing. Actually, these fireplaces draw combustion air from your room, they are drawing warm air that your furnace has heated and sending it up the chimney after it passing through the fire. The bottom line is that no matter how you look at it, a masonry fireplace with or without doors is sending money…and lots of it… up the chimney.
You do have options. Your existing woodburning unit can be torn out to the framing and a new gas or high efficient wood burner installed. This is by far the most expensive as well as the most disruptive solution. Increasingly, customers are choosing to leave the wood burner in place and have a fireplace insert installed into it.
Fireplace inserts come in a vast array of sizes to fit almost any site built fireplace. You can get them in gas burning versions with either a log set or a modern linear look or in wood burning versions. Gas inserts are at a minimum 85% efficient and wood inserts are at a minimum 80% efficient. By installing a gas or wood burning insert not only will you save money on fuel for it but you will also get up to 85% of the heat it generates back into your room.
In todays era of energy efficiency and increasingly high utility costs many people are turning down their home thermostats but still want the rooms they spend the most time in to be warm. If that room houses your old woodburning fireplace an insert is the perfect way to keep the room warm on cold nights and on those nights in the shoulder seasons when your furnace has been turned off but you need some heat to take the edge of a cool evening.