5 Pro-Tips to Help You Find the Best Fireplace Insert
A fireplace insert is a smart investment whether you want to give your fireplace a facelift at a fraction of the cost of remodeling or make it a more efficient heating appliance. Fireplace inserts are prefabricated fireboxes that have been designed to decrease drafts and increase heat efficiency. Since they are available in a variety of designs from rustic to modern, you can find an insert to complement any decor.
Benefits of a Fireplace Insert
There are many benefits of having a fireplace insert installed. These are top advantages of investing in a fireplace insert:
– It is a cost effective solution to fix a damaged firebox or improve the appearance of a stained fireplace
– It is 70-80% more efficient than a traditional fireplace making it a more effective heating alternative
– It is a simple and affordable way to convert a wood fireplace into a gas, pellet or electric fireplace
– It can reduce your heating and cooling bills all year round because it prevents drafts and stops heated/cooled air from escaping up the chimney
How to Find the Best Fireplace Insert
Shopping for a fireplace insert is simple as long as you follow these 5 pro-tips.
Tip #1 – Choose the Right Type to Fit Your Preferences & Lifestyle: Gas, Wood, Pellet or Electric
Fireplace inserts are available in four different types: wood, pellet, gas and electric. The one that is right for you depends on your preferences and lifestyle.
If you love the aroma of burning wood and don’t mind feeding the fire and cleaning out ashes, a wood or pellet fireplace insert is the best option for you. A pellet fireplace insert is a good choice if you are looking for greater convenience. Pellet inserts burn small pieces of compressed recycled wood (pellets) that are stored in a hopper, or bin, in the appliance. Some models can hold enough pellets to power the fireplace for 36 hours. With a pellet fireplace insert, you can significantly reduce the number of times you have to bring in fuel to heat your home.
If you don’t want to have the hassle of toting fuel in for the fire or cleaning out ashes, a gas and electric fireplace insert will be the best option for you. These inserts also offer the most customization. You can choose a model that allows you to control the height of the flames and background lighting with remote control. You can also create a unique fire display with imitation drift wood, firestones or fire glass. Keep in mind, you will need access to a gas line or be able to have a propane tank installed to have a gas insert installed.
Tip #2 – Make Sure Your Chimney Meets Venting Requirements
Electric fireplace inserts are the only ones that do not have any venting requirements. Wood, gas and pellet inserts do. When the insert is installed, a metal flue liner will also be installed that will be connected to the insert. If you want a wood, gas or pellet insert and have a fireplace with an unusually small chimney, you should consult a fireplace expert to make sure that it will accommodate a metal flue liner and meet venting requirements.
If you are hoping to install a fireplace insert into a prefabricated or factory built fireplace, check the owner’s manual to see what inserts are compatible with it. You may discover that it is not possible to safely install an insert in it.
Tip #3 – Measure Your Fireplace & the Area You Plan to Heat
Practically speaking, the most important part of choosing a fireplace insert is making sure that you pick one that has the correct dimensions and produces the right heat output for the area you plan to heat.
Much like a well-tailored outfit, you want a fireplace insert that isn’t too big or too small but fits just right. Before you go shopping, you should measure the width, depth and height of your fireplace’s firebox. Be sure to bring the measurements with you when you stop by a showroom to look at live burning models.
You should also measure the area that you are planning to heat and calculate the square footage. Heat output varies from model to model. If you are planning to heat a small room, a fireplace insert with a low heat output (around 30,000 to 40,000 BTUs) should be adequate. If you are planning to heat a large area, a fireplace insert with a greater heat output (between 50,000 to 85,000 BTUs) will be a better choice. If you are only planning to use your insert for ambiance and to decrease a draft, you also will not need as great of a heat output. In contrast, if you are hoping to use your insert to zone heat your home and rely less on your furnace you will need an insert with a greater heat output.
The best way to find out the ideal heat output for your fireplace insert is to speak with a fireplace expert. Speaking to a knowledgeable fireplace expert can also save you time. Instead of reading dozens of inserts’ specs in search of ones that are the right size, they can tell you what models to compare that have the heat output and dimensions that you are looking for.
Tip #4 – Take Advantage of Customizable Features
For many homeowners, the best part of choosing a fireplace insert is the customizable features. You can choose whether or not you would like an insert that is operated by remote, switch or thermostat. Gas and electric models allow you the most customization since you can make aesthetic decisions about what type of logs, fire stones or glass you would like for the fire display. Take advantage of the customization! Think about what features would be most convenient for you and how you want your fireplace to look. If you don’t see what you are looking for, ask a fireplace specialist. A model you are interested in may offer options you aren’t aware of.
Tip #5 – Hire a Professional for the Installation
Installing a fireplace insert is one home improvement project you shouldn’t tackle by yourself. The installation process requires a chimney inspection and cleaning, flue liner installation and connection, electrical wiring and, if you have a gas insert, tapping into a gas line. Neglecting or messing up any of these steps could cause a serious safety risk.
Like all fireplaces, if a fireplace insert does not operate correctly, it could cause a house fire, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. That is why building codes in many areas require professional installation. It is also why most warranties for fireplace inserts are void if it is not professionally installed.
The small cost of a professional installation is worth it. It gives you peace of mind and protects your home from the risks and costs of improper installation.
Come find your ideal fireplace insert at our showroom in Wilton, CT off scenic Route 7! You can browse a wide selection of models from top-rated brands in person. We carry every style and large selection of sizes to meet your needs and complement your home décor. If you don’t see what you are looking for or have questions about a model you like, ask one of our fireplace specialists. As many residents in Fairfield County and the surrounding area have learned, you can count on our team to give you honest answers, good advice and expertly install your new insert.