Defining Types of Fireplaces

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 31,007
    Rob Neale, Deputy Superintendent of the United States Fire Administration, talks about defining the different types of fireplaces.

    Rob Neale: Hi! I am Rob Neale, Deputy Superintendent of the United States Fire Administration, at Emmitsburg, Maryland. We are talking today about fireplace safety. One of the things we want to explain to you are the different types of fireplaces that are out there on the market and what might be best for you and your particular needs. When selecting a fireplace that's most suitable for your family and what needs you might have, there is a variety of choices out there that you might want to consider. A lot of people like to burn wood. If you have forestlands nearby or lots of wood that is available at a reasonable price, it's a good opportunity and a good option for you to consider.

    Now, there are three major types of wood stoves. One of course is the masonry fireplace, or the fireplace that's built right into the house. A second is a free standing wood stove. And the third is what's called the fireplace insert. Each has some strengths and each has some weaknesses. The fireplace is probably the most expensive option of those three, but the thing about the fireplace is, it's very permanent and very well built and very well maintained, if you take care of it the way it's intended to be. A brick fireplace will last a lifetime, and in fact, many times it will last longer than the house that it's attached too.

    A free standing fireplace is one that might be located in the corner of the room or in the sidewall, and it's usually made out of metal and it's provided with a nice little firebox, where you can put little pieces of wood in there. And typically, these are handy for heating your home, because what they do is you can damper down the firebox itself and allow the wood to burn for a long time without burning up a lot of fuel.

    Another type of fireplace that you will find is what's called an insert. An insert is a metal box that's slid into a masonry fireplace and allows you to control the amount of air that goes into the firebox, to again dampen it down to the point where it doesn't burn the wood quite so quickly and it allows for a lot of nice heat to be put out throughout the house. Other types of fireplaces include natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas fireplaces. Now, these tend to be more cosmetic than heat generating, but they do provide a little bit of heat that will heat your house or will certainly heat the room that you are located in. Electric stoves; these are more cosmetic than anything. They have a nice fire image that comes on the screen of the stove, but they do put out a little bit of heat. Again, localized in the area where you might be sitting or enjoying the fireplace.

    Another type of stove that's on the market recently is what's called a pellet stove. Now, pellet stoves either use corn or small wood pellets that burn in the firebox and they provide a nice source of heat that can be used to heat your entire home or can be used just to heat an individual room. Now, one of the things that you have to be careful of with the pellet stove is, it does require electricity to keep the pellets flowing into the firebox. And finally, the last of the solid fuel appliances that we are familiar with is the old coal stove. These are very common in the Eastern part of the United States, where coal is predominant. They heat very well. Part of the challenge with coal of course is just finding bags of coal or having coal delivered to your property. It's very well for you to probably spend some time studying the different types of stoves that are out there and seeing what fits best for your own particular use. Now, that covers a variety of the different types of stoves that are out there. Take some time to study them all. Visit with the retailers and think about what you might need that works best for you and your family. Now, coming up next, we are going to talk about how to lay up the fire and how to choose the right type of wood for building that fire.