By Fran Marengo
(As Published In House & Home News Magazine, January 2007)
Today’s vented gas fireplaces have married decorator styling with high-efficiency technology. Whether you are planning a new fireplace installation as part of a remodeling project or in new construction, careful shopping will acquaint you with an array of fireplace choices that are not only extremely heat-efficient, but also offer beauty and distinctive styling as part of the package.
It used to be that vented fireplaces with impressive flames and logs sent all the heat up the chimney while pulling in heated air already paid for. Many homeowners turned to “vent-free” or “ventless” fireplaces to prevent any heat loss whatsoever. Ventless fireplaces tend to be lower in price and are simpler to install, which makes them popular choices.
However, due to the fact that all the exhaust is retained in the room, some sensitive people may pick up a slight odor from a ventless fireplace which can be troublesome for those with allergies, breathing problems or other health problems. If the home is very tight, moisture given off due to excessive use can lead to a yellowish film on walls and ceilings and even mold or mildew problems. These fireplaces are actually intended by the manufacturers to be used as supplemental heat, in moderation, with adequate ventilation.
The new “direct-vent” fireplaces avoid these issues by offering the best of both worlds: clean air without any possibility of “indoor air pollution” along with excellent heat, plus more realistic flames with lots of glowing embers.
The front of a direct-vent fireplace is sealed airtight by a single sheet of glass with hidden gaskets and clamps. Expensive, already heated room air can’t be pulled in to feed the fire, nor can any fumes escape into the room. Instead, a double pipe allows the exhaust to escape through the small center pipe, while fresh outside air is pulled into the space between the two pipes to feed the fire. Efficiencies typically range from 75% to 85%.
The venting can run either up through the roof or directly out an exterior wall, where it is capped off with what appears to be an over-size drier vent.
There are many distinct styles to choose from. Those seeking a sleek, contemporary look can select from a variety of trendy brushed nickel or pewter trims in arches or rectangles as well as bay window fronts.
For a rugged, rustic setting, a massive hand-hammered copper or wrought-iron arched front is stunning. Especially suitable for log homes are those fireplaces with optional operable arched screen doors with motifs such as deer, trees and bears. These double-doors set right over the glass and completely disguise the glare of the glass. For horse lovers, there are even fireplaces with horse themes on the market! Of course, an array of traditionally styled screen doors are available and are among the most wanted accessories.
If you believe that good things come in small packages, check out the trend-setting tiny, “portrait” style direct vent’ fireplaces. Taller than they are wide and sized to fit the smallest niche, these unique mini-fireplaces can be tucked into non-traditional locations, such as a corner kitchen cabinet, a custom oak cabinet in the bedroom or built in high up on the wall of an intimate sitting room.
For those who are working with a Victorian theme, an antique reproduction gas “coal-effect” direct-vent fireplace features a “horseshoe” shaped cast-iron surround with a cast-iron coal basket. You’ll be transported back in time 100 years as you’re mesmerized by the red glow and dancing flames of the burning bed of gas “coals.”
For more information and live demonstrations of all types of fireplaces, gas, wood, pellets, corn, and electric, Custom Fireplaces & More invites everyone who likes to stay warm in style to come visit their 3600 square foot showroom.
Custom Fireplaces & More is located at 1161 E. Spring St., Cookeville. They are open 9:00 – 5:00 Monday through Saturday and by appointment beyond regular hours.