Wood fireplace inserts are designed to enhance the operation and efficiency of an existing wood burning fireplace . . . and they do it very, very well! Made of cast iron or plate steel with insulated self-cleaning glass doors to provide a view of the fire, they are installed in an existing masonry or factory-built zero clearance wood burning fireplace with a working chimney.
Typically, older fireplaces have efficiency ratings of only five to ten per-
cent, due to the open combustion design that permits too much heated room air to be drawn into the fire. As a result, the fire burns too fast and wastes a great deal of energy.
Conversely, a wood fireplace insert is an insulated, closed-door system that retards the burning rate and increases the temperature of the fire to facilitate more complete combustion. In many cases, a wood insert can boost the efficiency rating of an older fireplace to more than 65% . . . up to 80% . . . while generating more heat output. Additionally, an EPA-certified insert can reduce emissions from wood burning to almost zero.
Wood fireplace inserts come in a wide range of sizes and should be select-
ed on the basis of the size of the existing opening of your fireplace. To de-
termine the correct size, measure the height, width and depth of the opening, as well as the height and width at the rear of the firebox. Also measure the distance that the hearth extends beyond the front of the fire-
place into the room.
Generally, many new fireplace inserts require the installation of a stainless steel flue liner inside the
existing chimney. At a minimum, it is important to have a positive seal at the point where the fireplace
insert connects to the chimney flue or liner. This will ensure that room air does not get sucked up the
chimney along with fireplace exhaust, and will help block cold down-
drafts when the fireplace is not in use.
The wide range of products on the market today makes it easier than ever before to increase the efficiency
of your existing wood burning fireplace with a fireplace insert. The installation of a wood fireplace insert
can turn an occasional source of warmth into a convenient and easy-to-use supplemental zone heater to help con-
trol high home heating costs and protect winter air quality -- both indoors and out.
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