Friday, December 4, 2009

Converting Wood Burning Fireplaces to Electric Fireplaces

Many people tire of dealing with the hassles of a wood burning fireplace such as cutting, splitting and stacking wood. Not to mention the mess or cost of wood if you have no place to cut your own and have to purchase it. I came across this article about converting to electric fireplaces that I found to be extremely interesting and thought I would share it. My thanks to the author for allowing me to republish it.

How to Convert a Wood Or Gas Fireplace to an Electric Fireplace
By Rick D Morse
Converting an existing wood or gas fireplace to a clean and energy efficient electric fireplace is simple and easy. You don't need the skills of a mason, a cabinetmaker, or an electrician to enjoy the comfort and ambiance provided by an electricity powered fireplace. These units are delivered to your door ready to be installed and enjoyed for many years to come. If you can open a box and plug in an electrical cord, you have all the skills you will need to convert a wood or gas fireplace to an electric fireplace.
Many people are afraid to try new ideas, simply because they are new. The uncertainties that come with trying to install something yourself can be intimidating. Installing an electricity powered fireplace in your apartment, condo, or home is as simple as plugging in a blender or a coffeemaker. At the same time, you will enjoy clean, inexpensive, supplemental heat for your home while enjoying all of the ambiance of a real fire.
Eliminate the Mess and Worry of a Wood Fireplace
Certainly, wood fireplaces have their appeal. The smell of a wood fire, the crackling burn of logs on a grate, and the sight of smoke rising from the chimney are all big attractions. At the same time, your wood fireplace can be pretty demanding. Cords of wood must be purchased, stored, and brought into the home. Very often, this means spiders, earwigs, and termites are also brought into your home. If the wood gets wet, you must go without a fire until it dries.
Once you have enjoyed your fire, the ashes must be collected and disposed of without causing a fire risk to your home or the neighborhood. Also, in this day of environmental awareness and responsibility, the smoke and other emissions must be considered. Creosote, which can build up in your chimney, must be removed by a professional to avoid the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Once the winter has passed, your wood fireplace will go unused for most of the year.
Gas Fireplaces are Not without Risks
Gas fireplaces provide a greater measure of convenience than wood fireplaces, but they also carry their own risks. Gas fireplace pilot lights must be maintained and there are always concerns about gas leaks and venting problems. These maintenance requirements demand the use of a skilled professional to ensure your safety, adding extra cost to your gas fireplace.
Gas fireplaces generally cost 17 to 24 cents per hour to operate, whereas electric fireplaces provide realistic looking flames for about 3 cents per hour and flames with heat for around 8 to 12 cents an hour. Over time, one of these fireplaces can pay for itself while providing you with years of realistic looking flames, convenience, and comfortable heat.
These Inserts are Easy to Install
Electric fireplace inserts are easily installed in existing wood or gas fireplaces without any sort of renovation. You do not need a contractor or any other assistance. When your electric unit arrives, you simply open the box, place it in your existing fireplace opening, and plug it in. It has no maintenance requirements and you have the added convenience of being able to start your fireplace from the comfort of your easy chair with a remote.
The flame technology used in these fireplaces provides you with all of the ambiance of a real fire without any of the mess, inconvenience, or risks. Your electricity powered fireplace can provide supplemental heat for up to 400 square feet with 4700 BTUs per hour, allowing you to lower your thermostat and your heating bill. Electric fireplace logs and ember beds provide an attractive ambiance and you can operate your electric unit with or without heat.
The Flexibility of Fire with or without Heat
Unlike wood and gas fireplaces, you can enjoy sitting in front of your electric fireplace logs at any time of the year. These fireplaces allow you to operate the flame and heat independently of each other for year round enjoyment. You can use the flame alone if you want the ambiance of a fire without the heat, even in the middle of summer. Obviously, this is not possible with wood or gas.
Fireplaces serve as a wonderful gathering place, providing warmth and other comforts to family, friends, and visitors. Your realistic looking electric fireplace logs and ember bed will provide you with everything good about a fireplace without any of the negatives. Your fireplace can be installed in a matter of minutes and turned on with the push of a button. You get the best of both worlds with an electric fireplace and a lower cost. Once you discover the ease, convenience, and ambiance that this type of fireplace provides, you may very well decide to invest in a freestanding fireplace for some other part of your home. Furniture quality Amish fireplaces, modern corner units, and every style in between are available for your comfort and enjoyment.

Rick Morse is the CEO for Electric Fireplaces Direct. They provide quality, energy efficient electric fireplace units with realistic looking electric fireplace logs.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

The Beauty of Brick Fireplace Designs

It is difficult to replace the feeling of warmth you get from a fireplace on a dark and drizzly chilly day. Along with the warmth, the scent of the burning wood adds a cozy ambiance to a home that can spark memories of Christmas past or just a shared cup of hot chocolate. The majority of these wonderful feelings are enjoyed in front of traditional fireplaces faced with brick. Brick fireplace designs have been utilized in home construction since the mid 1600s and are still a favorite even today. One reason being that even as the brick ages and takes a beating through the years, it does so without losing its original charm and actually acquires a certain character of its own.

In addition to the beauty of the brick, more practically, brick fireplaces became common over the years because of the raised hearth which allows for sitting and eating surfaces. Brick fireplace designs also take advantage of brick's natural ability to absorb the heat from the fire and radiate it out into the room. These are the reasons you almost always see people gravitate to and gather around the brick fireplace at family gatherings or other celebrations.

The great thing about utilizing brick in a residential fireplace design is that there are so many different variations in the application of the brick which allow you to get quite creative with your design. The bricks can be laid in the traditional staggered brick pattern, they can be set at an angle, turned up on their edge or any combination of patterns that you can imagine. There are numerous brick finishes and styles available to provide an ‘antiqued’ look or if you prefer a more contemporary feel to your brick fireplace, you can do that too. If you are looking for a more rustic look, reclamation yards are good places to find used handmade bricks from an earlier period in history. Some even choose to paint the brick in order to match a particular color scheme. Whatever your personal preferences may be, there is absolutely no doubt that you can get quite creative with brick fireplace designs.

Regardless of your choice in design, you can rest assured that your brick fireplace will be durable and require little attention through the years. Fireplaces constructed utilizing brick and masonry chimneys typically are very low maintenance as they only require occasional inspections and cleaning. This type construction also allows for peace of mind when you consider fire danger as brick is a natural fireproof material on its own.

In order to finalize the design of your fireplace, be sure to add a strikingly beautiful mantle to top off your design. The mantle is to a fireplace much as icing is to a cake. It adds that crowning touch that really makes the whole thing come together to make brick fireplace designs the masterpieces they are intended to be.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fireplace Design Ideas

One of the first things I notice when touring new homes is the many different fireplace design ideas that are utilized to highlight a room. There is almost no limit to what can be done with the construction of a new fireplace. Once the type of heat is decided, the fun really begins. There are two major decisions that must be made early in the process when it comes to residential fireplace designs. Where in the room the fireplace will be located and the type material that will be used in the construction.

As far as the location goes, most fireplaces end up on the center of a long wall and while this is always a good choice and adds a lot to a room, the center of a wall is hardly unique placement. More and more we are beginning to see fireplaces placed in the corner of a room. While this placement may seem to take up additional space, it does allow for several different furniture arrangements which may not be possible with the usual center wall placement. Another option is a two sided fireplace design that is built into a wall that separates two rooms. This allows for the enjoyment of the fireplace from two different rooms at the same time without having to construct two separate fireplaces. I have also seen fireplaces built at the end of a wall that partially separates two rooms. This actually allows viewing from three different sides and of course permits the fireplace to heat more efficiently. One of the most unique fireplace placement ideas I have noticed is the four sided island fireplace built in the middle of a large room that allows enjoyment of the fireplace from all four sides. While some of these are not very common placements, they definitely show the uniqueness in residential fireplace design ideas that a little imagination can provide.

Once the placement of the fireplace is decided upon, the type materials used to construct the fireplace become the focus of the project. This is where you will really make or break the project. Fireplace design materials are one of the few cosmetic features of home construction that cannot easily be changed. This is why it is extremely important to be sure of your choice of material. A couple of my favorites are the stone fireplace designs and of course the brick fireplace designs. While these are usually the most common, other materials are being utilized more and more in modern fireplace construction. The use of tile, granite, marble and other natural materials are finding their way into the residential fireplaces being built today with some stunning results.

Where ever you choose to place your fireplace or whatever material you choose to use, keep in mind that the fireplace will be the focal point of the room and you will be sure to make the best choices. By doing some thorough research and by visiting some new homes under construction to see the current architects fireplace design ideas, you will be blessed with a fireplace that will provide warmth and visual enjoyment for many years to come.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fireplace Doors -The Final Touch in Fireplace Designs

Fireplace doors are a great investment. They are designed to help you save on energy costs, beautify your home, and protect your home from hot embers that may pop out into a room. Your fireplace is not just a means of providing heat for your home, it is usually the focal point of the most highly used room in a house. Fireplace doors accentuate the beauty and appeal of flickering flames and glowing embers thus contributing to the overall aesthetic looks of the fireplace and the room decor.

In addition to providing a much needed decorative touch to your fireplace, fireplace doors save energy by eliminating cold drafts and odors. An important consideration in the purchase of doors is the gasket material used where the doors contact the face of the fireplace. Make sure that the doors have a continuous woven gasket which in combination with a positive locking latch will help eliminate heat loss from the home through the fireplace opening. When properly constructed and fitted, studies have shown that fireplace doors can decrease air loss by as much as 90% if the doors are kept closed when the fireplace is not in use.

Another important feature of fireplace doors is the safety that they provide. Not only do they prevent hot embers from popping out into the room, they also prevent items from falling into the fireplace opening. The doors also help keep small children and pets from accidentally coming in contact with the open flames of the fire.

While fireplace doors come in many different styles and finishes, there are basically just two main types. The more traditional style doors that open and close by sliding back and forth on tracks, and cabinet style doors that open and close like regular cabinet doors. Regardless of the the type doors you choose, the shape of the opening will be the determining factor on whether you will purchase a set of available stock fireplace doors or whether custom made doors will be necessary.

Once you have decided that fireplace doors would be a worthwhile investment, it's time to break out the tape measure and take a few measurements. You will need to know the height and width of the fireplace opening. Since fireplace construction is not always exactly perfect, measure the height of the opening in a couple of different places and the width of the opening in at least three places. Note the smallest of these measurements and you are now ready to head to the fireplace supply stores and begin shopping for your new fireplace doors. Once you are home with your new doors, installation is rather straight forward and well within the abilities of most homeowners using very basic tools.

There are just a couple of other things you need to consider when using fireplace doors. Optional mesh curtains or mesh doors allow for the full enjoyment of your fire's warmth with the doors safely open. If you're going to burn wood, we strongly recommend adding mesh. Also, if instead of burning wood in your fireplace, you have gas logs, the doors should always be open when the gas logs are being used. The burning gas produces moisture which can cause the doors to corrode if left closed. Following the tips in this article will allow you to purchase and enjoy that perfect set of fireplace doors, as well as save money and energy, for many, many years to come.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Aesthetic Elements in Residential Fireplace Designs

Once the heating side of the equation is nailed down, it is time to address the aesthetic element. The first major decision involving the appearance in residential fireplace designs is the placement in the room. The vast majority of fireplaces are built in the center of an exterior wall, but your choices are not limited to this. You could choose to place the fireplace in a corner which is ideal for smaller homes. If your home is large enough, consider a multi-sided island fireplace. These can provide a four sided view and also radiate heat in all four directions making this a great choice for efficiency. A see through fireplace can separate two main rooms thus providing two fireplaces for the price of one. As you can see, there are choices for placement other than just the traditional placement on an outside wall and you should consider these before a final decision is made.

Next comes the most important aspect of the visual element of any fireplace. The material used to face the front of the fireplace can set the tone for the rest of your home decoration and allows for personal expression. Many homes built in the post World War II era, have the more traditional fireplaces faced with brick that matches the brick used on the exterior of the home. However, you have many choices other than brick. Some choose to just face their fireplace with smooth, painted sheet rock in order to match the walls in the rest of the room. This method can be utilized if you want the function of a fireplace but desire it to be less of a focal point. Another popular choice is stone. Some of the more dramatic fireplace designs I have seen are achieved with stone. There are many different shapes and sizes of stone and since it is a natural product, no two stones are alike thus resulting in a truly unique fireplace. Flat stone can be laid with the face of the stone exposed or with the edge exposed. If flat stones are not your style, look at the unique qualities of round stone which also make for an interesting fireplace design. In addition to stone, other natural products such as tile, marble and granite are used in many residential
fireplace designs today. As you can see, there are many good choices for materials to use in the design of an individual's fireplace.

Okay, the hard part is over. Now we just need to decide on the mantle and the type of hearth and our fireplace design will be complete. Let's first address the hearth. The fireplace hearth allows for a couple of choices. You can have the hearth and firebox level with the floor which some say seems to make the fireplace less obtrusive in a room. Or the hearth can be built up which allows a place for you to sit and enjoy the warmth of that nice roaring fire. The last thing we need is a mantle. The mantle is not only decorative but also functional. It will be a place where family pictures are displayed and of course the Christmas stocking will be hung by the chimney with care. There are as many different kinds of mantles available as there are ideas, so take your time and choose a mantle that will compliment the other design elements of your fireplace.

Now that all the features of our fireplace have been decided upon, we just need to ensure we have a brick and stone mason that is experienced with
fireplace and chimney construction. Contact your local building department and see if they can or will give you some recommendations on the best masons in your area. Otherwise, contact local builders. I am sure they will know the best of the best stone masons in your vicinity. If you take the time to research all the different fireplace elements available, you will find that residential fireplace designs are quite simple to envision and your plan will result in a fireplace you can enjoy for many years to come.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Heating Fuel Choices in Fireplace Designs

It is difficult to find something more enjoyable than sitting beside a nice warm fire on a chilly, cloudy winter's day. And with today's many fireplace designs, the experience is even more enjoyable than ever. The design of a fireplace in most homes is generally dependent upon the style of the rest of the home or the function of the room it is in. Today's modern fireplaces range from contemporary to Victorian, modern, country and everything in between. If you can imagine it, it can most likely become reality.

When considering the design of a fireplace, you must remember that a fireplace consists of two separate functions. One being the heat element and the other being the fireplace designs visual element. The first decision made will usually be the type fuel it will utilize or the heating element. There are many primary forms of heat available for a home, such as a gas fired furnace or oil filled heater, that allow you to be less concerned with the type fuel in your fireplace. When I think of a fireplace, my first thought is the scent of burning wood. While some find that to be a very appealing smell, others would just as soon not have their clothing, curtains and other fabrics retain that lingering smell of smoke. Luckily, there are choices that can help with this issue. Other residential fireplace designs allow for the use of a vented or ventless gas fireplace, electric fireplaces that simulate the real thing or even a wood burning furnace.

While we know that seldom is anything ever as good as the real thing, these new gas log and electric fireplaces do a pretty doggone good job. In addition to their good looks they come with the benefit of not having to cut or buy wood year in and year out. Nor do you have to split or stack wood, carry it into the house and clean up the mess it makes. Once you consider all this, those electric and gas log fireplaces look even better.

Now that you know the type fuel to be used there are a few other necessary decisions to make about the heating side of your fireplace design. If you have chosen a gas log fireplace, you may choose to build a non-vented fireplace. While there are definite advantages to this type of application it also has it's drawbacks as well. One advantage of non-vented fireplace designs, and it is a major one, is the fact that you can place these in any room of the house and place them any where in the room. This, coupled with the other benefits I mentioned earlier, provide a compelling argument for installing gas logs along with a non-vented fireplace. However, before you make the final decision to go the non-vented route, know that once you do this, you can never go old school and burn wood.

If your decision involves the installation of a vented fireplace, you have another decision to make and that is in the type of vented fireplace to build. The two types are prefabricated and masonry fireplaces. While the prefabricated fireplace is cheaper to install, the masonry fireplace will likely last many more years. You may also consider a free standing fireplace. These are also available in many different styles. Whichever way you decide to go, professional installation is a must for this project as the actual construction of fireplace designs is likely outside the scope of abilities of even the most experienced do-it-yourself homeowner.

Friday, September 18, 2009

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Welcome to Pinpointe Fireplace Designs

Thanks for stopping by my fireplace designs blog and I hope you find the information provided here to be helpful. As a fireplace is the focal point of any room it occupies, you cannot overlook the importance of its beauty.

It is my intention to provide you with information and a few ideas that will help you as you consider the best residential fireplace designs for your home. If at anytime you feel the need for additional information, feel free to contact us at