Fireplaces, whether real or fake, add warmth and character to any room. Here are some inspiring home fireplace designs.
1. Modern Landscape Gas Fireplace. Positioning a gas fireplace directly below a flat-panel TV is a very modern design style. The fireplace adds comfort and warmth to the modern family room.
2. Painted Brick Fireplace. This old fireplace is no longer used to burn wood. Instead the brick has been painted white to match the décor of the room. Candles in the hearth still provide the flicker of a flame without the hassle accompanying wood burning.
3. Bathroom Fireplace. This traditional bathroom design with fireplace harkens back to the days when fireplaces were the only source of heat for a home, and two story homes often had fireplaces in multiple rooms to keep the house warm during the cold winter months.
4. Outdoor Stone Fireplace. An outdoor fireplace can double as grills and provides a place to gather for summertime parties.
5. 1800’s Country Fireplace. This entire room is from a 19th Century country cabin. The fireplace still has the hanging Dutch oven used to cook stew or soup by Colonial Americans.
6. Traditional Stone Fireplace. Nothing beats a traditional stone fireplace with wood mantle. This functioning wood burning fireplace is the centerpiece of the room.
7. Modern Corner Fireplace. This fireplace provides a three-sided view of the burning flame. It provides warmth and soothing comfort to guests and homeowners.
We’ve already discussed some of the problems with traditional fireplaces, but some homes already have wood burning fireplaces installed. And, some people prefer a real fireplace because nothing can perfectly simulate the crackle and glow of wood burning in a hearth. If you do have or want a wood fireplace, here are some safety and maintenance tips to follow to keep your house intact and your fire burning hot:
- Keep a fire extinguisher close by. This is one of the most important fireplace safety tips. If a stray spark does start the curtains or carpet on fire, a fire extinguisher can mean the difference between a few singed drapes and a destroyed home. >> Read our other post, A Brush Up On Fire Safety, for more general home fire safety tips.
- Only burn dry and untreated wood. Treated lumber has chemicals infused into it to resist decay and burning. Burning treated lumber will release poisonous gasses into your home. Dry wood is also ideal, because damp, or green, wood will smoke more than burn and can crackle and pop a lot, causing a fire hazard.
- Regularly clean out the ashes. Ashes piled up in the bottom of your fireplace will decrease the burning efficiency, so regularly clean out your ashes when the coals are cold. Shovel the ashes into a metal or other non-flammable container. Don’t use your hands or a vacuum cleaner, because there still may be some hot coals buried in the ashes.
- Never use gasoline or other accelerant to start a fire. Using an accelerant to help light a fire is the quickest way to burn down your house. Drips or leaks in the gas container can quickly spread out of control. Bundled up newspapers or small twigs are the ideal pieces of kindling to use.
- Clean the chimney once a year. Once a year, have a professional come clean your chimney to remove soot and creosote; both substances are flammable and can cause problems if allowed to build up. The chimney sweep can also inspect your chimney and fireplace for damage and recommend solutions to any identified problems.
- Know how to operate the baffle/damper. Every wood burning fireplace has a baffle, or damper, that regulates air flow across the fire and up the chimney. When first lighting your fire, open the damper all the way to allow for the most air flow. Once the fire is burning well, close the damper to slow the burn down and allow heat to spread throughout the room. If you smell smoke when the damper is closed, open it up a little bit; this can be a bit tricky as you have to find the perfect balance between airflow and smoke evacuation.
- Never leave the fire unattended. An unattended fire is a dangerous creature. Sparks can unexpectedly jump to furniture and start a conflagration, or smoke can start building up without your notice. So, it is important to tend to your fire. Also, keep small children away from the fireplace as their curiosity can result in some nasty burns.
- Consider a metal grate for your logs. For many wood burning fireplaces, you can build your fire directly in the hearth. However, a metal fire grate facilitates better air flow around and underneath your logs, so the fire burns better.
- Place a non-flammable rug in front of your fireplace. Whether you have a hardwood floor or carpeted floor in the room with the fireplace, stray sparks can damage the fibers or finish, at the very least. A non-flammable rug will help protect your floor from damage.
- Try to burn only hardwoods. Hardwoods, like oak or hickory, have a dense cell structure that causes them burn hotter and longer. Softwoods, like pine, burn quicker and have lots of sap that will pop and cause dangerous sparks to fly.
In our last post, we discussed why traditional fireplaces are not the best choice for your home. This week, we’ll take a closer look at a more modern fireplace option: gel fireplaces. The fuel source for these fire places is gelled alcohol. A single can of gel can burn for up to three hours and provide the hypnotic, flickering glow of a real flame without all the hassle that comes with burning wood. Listed below are some of the common features of fireplaces that burn gel:
- They are designed more for aesthetics. Gel fireplaces do produce heat and the more cans you can burn at once, the more heat is produced, but at best, the large ones can only heat a couple hundred square feet.
- Gel fireplaces can be placed practically anywhere. Yes, there are specific wall-mounted and wall insert gel fireplaces, but there are also outdoor and tabletop models. So you can have the flickering light of a fireplace virtually anywhere in your house.
- There are virtually no maintenance costs. The only thing you really have to do to maintain a gel fireplace is replace the gel cans when they burn out.
- They can be used with candles instead of gel. Many gel fireplaces come with a snuffer cover to go over the gel holders, giving you a flat surface on which to place candles to create ambiance without burning the gel; this is ideal during the summer to avoid the heat gel fireplaces do produce.
- Ventilation is not required. Another name for a gel fireplace is a ventless fireplace, a name that explains itself. Gas- and wood-burning fireplaces require ventilation for dangerous smoke and gasses – not so with gel fireplaces.
- There are some safety precautions. As with any heating implement, gel fireplaces do have a set of safety instructions designed to prevent house fires. The primary safety precaution is to keep the fireplace away from curtains or other flammable materials; the owner’s manual will outline more safety instructions for the specific fireplace.
There are few things more appealing than the crackle of a log burning in the fireplace and the warm glow it puts out. Unfortunately, attractive as they are, traditional fireplaces aren’t very efficient heaters and come with a slew of maintenance requirements that can put even the most hardcore traditionalist off of burning real wood. Fortunately, there are effective alternatives to traditional fireplaces.
Problems with Traditional Fireplaces
Listed below are some of the issues with traditional wood-burning fireplaces:
- Real fireplaces are not the best heaters. When the fire is burning, most of the heat produced goes right up and out the chimney. All of the cold air in the house is drawn up to the flame, too, and eventually the house warms up, but it takes a lot longer to heat a room or home with wood than with electric or gas fireplaces and furnaces.
- Wood-burning fireplaces are difficult to operate. Operating a wood-burning fireplace is a lot of work. First, you have to open the draft diverter all the way, then pile up and light smaller kindling pieces, then stack larger pieces atop of that and hope everything lights properly. Once the fire is roaring and crackling, you have to close the draft diverter a little bit to slow the burn down, but if you close the draft diverter too far, your house will fill with smoke. Also, you have to constantly pile on more wood and stoke the pieces to keep the fire burning.
- They require a lot of maintenance. The two big maintenance requirements for wood-burning fireplaces are chimney cleaning and ash shoveling. The chimney needs to be cleaned of soot and creosote every year to prevent the chimney from catching on fire, and ashes need to be shoveled out of the hearth on a regular basis to provide enough space to build a fire. Over time, draft diverters and doors may require replacement, which can be costly.
- Traditional fireplaces are expensive to install. Whether you’re building a new home or renovating an old one, traditional fireplaces aren’t cheap. Not only do you need an insert, but the chimney and surround needs to be built brick by expensive high-heat brick.
- Firewood can be hard to come by. Unless you live in the forest or near a wooded area and are willing and able to chop and stockpile wood during the summer or brave the elements in the winter, firewood isn’t that accessible. You can buy cords of wood – a stack of wood 4ft. x 4ft. x 8ft., but it’s a lot more expensive than paying a gas or electric bill, even in the winter.
Alternatives to Traditional Fireplaces
The biggest advantage of fireplace alternatives, or faux fireplaces, is the ventilation required, or lack thereof. Gas fireplaces do need ventilation but not nearly as much as a wood-burning unit, so the aforementioned draft problem is greatly minimized or completely eliminated. Here are some alternatives to wood-burning fireplaces:
- Electric fireplaces. Electric fireplaces require no ventilation and are superior heaters to open fireplaces. You can place these models virtually anywhere, and many models feature flickering flames to create an authentic ambiance.
- Gas fireplaces. Gas fireplaces are a sought-after alternative to wood-burning units because these still use a real flame, but you don’t have to continually pile wood on. As mentioned before, gas units still require some ventilation, so there is a bit of an updraft, but not nearly as much as a traditional fireplace.
- Gel fireplaces. Gel fireplaces burn an alcohol gel to produce a real flame. There are several sizes and styles available to go virtually anywhere in your home. Larger units produce enough heat for a room, but smaller ones are more decorative than functional.
In light of the wildfires in Colorado, we’re going to spend this blog talking about fire safety. A fire doesn’t have to be “wild” to be devastating. A small spark can destroy your home, so it is important to take preventative measures and to have a plan in place in case a fire does happen. Here is a list of general fire safety tips:
Don't ignore the chirping of a low battery. This thing could save your life some day.
- Install working smoke detectors.Despite how annoying they are when you burn a roast, smoke detectors can save your life. Test your smoke alarms twice a year to ensure they are working properly, and replace the batteries whenever they start to chirp.
- Purchase and maintain fire extinguishers. A working fire extinguisher is as important as a smoke alarm. Have at least one fire extinguisher on every floor of your house so you can stop small fires before they claim your home or your life.
- Have an evacuation plan and practice it. It is important to know the quickest, safest way out of your house or office building, so you can evacuate quickly. At home, set up an evacuation plan with your family members and practice it, so everyone knows what to do if a fire does occur. You should also have a family meeting place on the street, well away from the house, so your family knows you made it out safely.
- Take care while cooking. The kitchen poses one of the biggest fire threats in your house; grease and unattended food is usually the cause. Don’t drop food into hot grease because the grease will splatter and can cause fire (especially on gas stoves). Also, don’t put something in the oven and forget about it. At the least, you can burn your food; at the worst, your house will catch on fire.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets. Overloading an electrical outlet will generate a lot of heat and can spark a fire.
- Call the fire department if you have a gas leak. If your stove or furnace uses natural gas or propane, gas leaks are a danger. If you smell gas, the best thing you can do is evacuate and call the fire department to assess the threat.
- Know how to operate your fire place. Fireplaces provide warmth and ambiance to your home, but not knowing how to properly light and maintain the fire, whether it be a wood or gas fireplace, can have disastrous consequences.
- Don’t leave a smoldering campfire. Backyard campfires are just as dangerous as campfires in the mountains when left unattended. Be sure to douse your campfire and to not leave any smoldering embers, lest your start a fire.
- Smoke with caution. Smokers need to be aware of where they are smoking and exercise extra caution when putting out their cigarettes. Never throw a lit cigarette carelessly on the grass or out the window of your car, especially if it’s dry out. Smoking in bed is also unadvisable, because dropped ashes can ignite your bed sheets.
- Don’t be a hero. If you do have to run from a fire, don’t go back in once you are safe. Stories of people rushing back into a burning building end in tragedy more often than not.
For more in-depth information on fire safety and preventing fires, visit the U.S. Fire Administration or National Fire protection Association websites. These sites have several pages of information available.
Beyond the regular seasons (summer, winter, spring and fall), in Colorado we also have wildfire season, and this season is in full force. The dry climate and hot temperatures combined with lightning strikes or careless hikers are the perfect recipe for igniting dry underbrush. Here is a list of current Colorado wildfires:
- Eby Creek fire in Eagle. This fire started on Thursday (6/28) and prompted pre-evacuation notices for 75 homes.
- Flagstaff fire in Boulder. Lightning started a fire near Boulder that has burned close to 300 acres.
- High Park fire in Fort Collins. The High Park fire has been burning near Fort Collins for several weeks and has taken one life and over 250 homes.
- Pine Ridge fire in Grand Junction. Nearly 2,000 acres have burned near Grand Junction, causing evacuations and the closure of highway I-70.
- Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs. This is being called the worst wildfire in Colorado history. So far, it has claimed one life and close to 350 homes. Here is a link to the Waldo Canyon fire photoblog.
The fire in Colorado Springs has been declared a major disaster by President Obama, who will be touring the scene. Our hearts go out to the victims of these fires, and we praise the courageous firefighters and emergency crews who are combating this catastrophe.
As with any indoor heating source, the luxury of having a home fireplace is not without risk. Fortunately, electrical fireplaces are safer for your home by leaps and bounds when compared to their solid wood-burning counterparts. If you are looking to add a unique design in your home, be aware of the benefits a plug-in version can provide.
Add the Burley Ashbury Wall Hanging Electric Fireplace to your home without worrying about the dangers of a solid-burning fireplace.
Since electrical fireplaces produce no real flame, the potential of a home fire is drastically reduced. The realistic flame-like display, such as the one found on the Burley Ashbury Wall Hanging Electric Fireplace, gives off warmth and a relaxing glow minus the potential dangers of sparks, embers and smoke. This also means you no longer have to deal with matches, lighter fluid, or other fire-starting equipment. The electrical unit’s energy is drawn from the grid, not a gas line or burning logs, which is not just safer for your home, but also safer for the environment as it creates less of a carbon footprint.
Each electrical fireplace is required to meet the safety criteria mandated by the Consumer Protection and Safety Commission. This means all units come with automatic cutoff devices in case of accidental tipping, helping prevent home fires effectively and safely. Any potential danger found within the heating mechanism can easily be avoided by placing your electrical fireplace on a secure, fire resistant surface.
Add an electric fireplace to your home today and revel in the warmth and ambiance it provides, while also enjoying the piece of mind that comes with knowing your family and home are safe.
Place the Real Flame Sierra Copper Free Standing Fireplace in your backyard oasis to add light and warmth.
With spring in full swing, many of us are happily getting back to nature and looking forward to spending the coming months in our outdoor refuges. From getting our hands dirty in our gardens, to getting together with our friends and families, the outdoor opportunities are endless. Whether it is enjoying the solitude of a quiet evening watching the sun set or grilling up culinary feasts on the deck, if you have always wanted to add a little warmth, light and ambiance to your patio or porch, now is the time to make your alfresco dream come true.
The Real Flame Sierra Copper Free Standing Fireplace can provide hours of warmth and light via the gel fuel cans and gives all your guests the best seat on the veranda thanks to the four glass panel enclosures. This hand painted, Asian-themed accent piece can mount virtually anywhere and has a steel coated frame for long-lasting durability. This fireplace also includes a protective cover to provide shelter when not in use.
Add the Real Flame Modesto Free Standing Column for a perfect fit in even the coziest spaces.
If you are limited on outdoor space, consider the smaller, Real Flame Modesto free standing fire columns to add a delicate accent to your deck or veranda. Available in both 15″ and 38″ tall, these adaptable fire columns bring glowing warmth to even the coziest patios.
So get outside and enjoy the spring/summer evenings long into the night and feel the magic an outdoor fireplace can bring to your space.
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