Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Gas Fireplace Can Be a Convenient Alternative

One of the most commonly sought after amenities home shoppers look for is a fireplace.  Unfortunately, many existing homes lack this feature and the addition of a fireplace in existing construction can be extremely costly and beyond the means of many homeowners.  But now, thanks to the modern gas fireplace, any homeowner can add this feature and enjoy the warmth and beauty gas fireplaces can provide.  Even if adding a vent pipe or flue is not possible in your situation, vent free gas fireplaces are manufactured that can be installed anywhere a gas supply line is available.

Should you be involved in the construction of a new home, your options for including a fireplace are many.  You can choose to add a free standing fireplace or built-in fireplace.  You can choose to construct a masonry fireplace and burn wood or install gas logs.  You can install a prefabricated fireplace with either gas logs or wood burning capabilities.  If you have an existing fireplace and are tired of the hassles of burning wood, you can easily convert this feature to a gas fireplace and eliminate that hassle.

Gas fireplaces are very fuel efficient and thanks to modern gas burners, your gas fireplace can be installed without venting to the outdoors thus eliminating heat loss all together.  These units, however, are not without their issues.  The burning of gas produces moisture, and with vented models this moisture is carried to the outdoors.  However, when using a non vented gas fireplace, you can only burn the fire for six or seven hours at the time in order to prevent mold or mildew that could form from the moisture the unit produces.  Also, if you choose a non vented model, be sure to have the unit checked yearly to insure it is operating properly and all safety features are in working order.

A gas fireplace option is being utilized by more and more homeowners as wood is becoming extremely expensive to purchase.  In past years, many people had access to and cut their own firewood.  Today, this is becoming more rare as most homes are built in subdivisions on small lots, thus making access to a free source of firewood less likely.  Even if cost is not an issue, many people tire of the cutting, hauling, and stacking of firewood and the constant cleaning of the firebox. So, installing a gas fireplace is a great option for eliminating this chore and also the mess that is created when carrying wood through your house.

While the flames from gas fireplaces do not look exactly like wood burning and you will no longer enjoy the sound of the fire crackling and the faint smell of wood smoke, a gas fireplace can be a great option for many homeowners in many situations.  Should you choose to purchase and install one of these units as a new installation or in an existing firebox, a gas fireplace can provide many years of satisfactorily operation and numerous hours of enjoyment for you, your family and your guests.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Creates the Perfect Ambiance

Outdoor fireplaces have become all the rage these days and it is no wonder this is the case.  It is most relaxing on a cool evening to gather the family on the patio around a rip-roaring fire while you sip a cup of hot chocolate.  If you are considering installing an outdoor fireplace, the thought process is much the same as the one for the construction of any fireplace, be it inside or out.  However, there are a couple of things you will need to consider in your outdoor fireplace design.  There are a few limitations when it comes to construction materials that are really quite obvious.  Since your fireplace will be exposed to the elements, any materials that cannot stand up to the outdoor elements will not be an option in the construction.  There is also no need for a damper since you are not concerned about the heating or cooling loss of an indoor fireplace.

The fire step in your outdoor fireplace design is, of course, the material you will use for construction.  Options include, but are not limited to, granite, cast iron, limestone, copper, and of course masonry.  The most common material used in fireplace design seems to be stone.  Stone certainly makes for a beautiful choice in fireplace materials and the stone will also stand the test of time and last for many years to come.  The second most popular choice appears to be brick which has many of the same advantages as stone.  However, no matter what material you use for your outdoor fireplace, as long as it fits in with your overall outdoor living space design and is a durable material, you should be satisfied for a long, long time.

Once your material choice is made, you now must consider the size of your fireplace.  There is really no rule of thumb for this process except be wise in attempting to match the size of your outdoor fireplace design with the other elements in your outdoor living area.  If the fireplace is too small it will seem to get lost in your space.  Of course, at the other end of the spectrum, if it is too large, it will tend to overwhelm your space.  Also, larger fireplaces will require more fuel to properly provide heat to the patio area.

Now that the materials and size have been determined, it is time to select your outdoor fireplace design.  There are a few great options for where to go to help you design your fireplace.  Of course, the Internet can provide a wealth of information and plans for outdoor fireplaces.  You can also seek out a competent brick and stone mason in your area that can provide you with choices in this area.  Lastly, your could consult with an architect to assist you with your design.  That last one may be effected by the size of your budget.  An architect will charge you for their services, but will also help you oversee the construction to ensure you get what you pay for.

Now that those decisions are underway, we need to consider what type of fuel you will choose to burn.  Many outdoor fireplace owners choose to burn wood for a variety of obvious reasons.  A wood burning fireplace can be loaded with lots of wood and will produce a large amount of heat.  There is also the crackling and popping of real wood in addition to the overall appearance of the fire as it burns.  After all, ambiance was one of the main reasons you chose to install an outdoor fireplace and nothing burns nicer than real wood.  However, if you have limited access to wood, or just do not want to have to deal with the cutting, splitting and stacking it involves, you could choose to install gas logs in your fireplace.  They do not heat quite as well and will not produce as realistic of a flame, but they are much more convenient then wood and definitely have a place in outdoor fireplace design.

Once your outdoor fireplace is constructed and the mortar has set up, grab the hot dogs and marshmallows and head outdoors for a relaxing evening around the fireplace.  I am sure you will find that when you have family and guests over for outdoor events, your outdoor fireplace will become the main gathering and focal point of your outdoor space.  As you see this occur, you will know that your outdoor fireplace design is a success and will provide you with many enjoyable evenings for years to come.