Can The Glass on My Fireplace Break?

If you’re not careful, the answer is ‘yes’, the glass on your fireplace or stove can crack or break.  It’s important to keep the glass clean, maintain the gasket in good repair and be careful and avoid breaking or cracking the glass when reloading the fireplace.  Here’s why…

TWO TYPES OF GLASS:Wait until fireplace has cooled. Can a fireplace glass break?

Your fireplace (or stove) will have one of two types of glass; tempered or ceramic.  The bi-fold doors on your zero clearance (ZC) wood burning fireplace are likely tempered glass.  The gasketed door on an EPA certified insert, stove or ZC fireplace uses ceramic glass.  So, what’s the difference between the two?  Among other things, the price!  Ceramic glass is significantly more expensive than tempered glass.

Both types of glass will take the high temperatures of a wood burning fire.  But ceramic glass is much stronger than tempered glass of the same thickness.  Ceramic glass can withstand very rapid thermal changes and temperatures of 1000°F.

EPA certified appliances use sealed, ceramic glass to help control the burn rate or the amount of combustion air allowed to the fire.  There should be no air leaking around the edge of the glass.  All combustion air is supplied to the fire via the primary air control and/or an appropriate outside air kit.

A QUICK SIDEBAR:

Never attempt to force a 16” log into a 15” firebox.  When you’re cutting wood, it’s always a good idea to go a couple of inches smaller.  If your fireplace or stove can take a 20” log, you’re smart to go with an 18” log length.  If the specs say 16” logs, cut it 14”.  You get the idea!

Never allow any burning wood to contact the glass on your fireplace.  Under no circumstances, never force the door closed after refueling the appliance.  Ceramic glass is expensive.  It’s strong, but it can and will break, so be careful with it.

WHAT IS MEANT BY “SEALED AND GASKETED”?

If the glass on your fireplace cracks or breaks, order the correct replacement glass from your WE LOVE FIRE dealer.  We will help direct you to the proper typClean the glass regularly. Can my fireplace glass break?e of glass and will order the correct size for your door(s).  Replacement glass is usually supplied by the manufacturer of the fireplace.  It will be cut specifically for your model to fit perfectly.

When replacing ceramic glass, it must be sealed to the door frame.  This can be done either at your WE LOVE FIRE dealership or, with the correct materials, by the do-it-yourselfer at home.

Graphite impregnated, ceramic fiber rope gasket is the most common type of gasketing material used for wood burning fireplaces, stoves and inserts.  It comes in several sizes from ¼” to 1” diameter.  Most doors will have a channel or groove where the rope gasket must be positioned.  A gasket cement or silicone is applied in this channel to keep the rope gasket secured in place.

The main function of the gasket is to seal the room air from the firebox.  The air for combustion on wood burning fires is carefully measured by the equipment’s primary air control.  There should be no leakage around the glass or the gasketed door on your fireplace, stove or insert.

WOOD VS GAS:

Ceramic glass is not limited to wood burning appliances.  Most gas fireplaces, stoves and inserts use ceramic glass, too.  The ceramic glass is typically sealed to a steel frame by an adhesive backed gasket.  Since direct vented gas appliances use 100% outside air for combustion, it is important to inspect the gasket material occasionally and replace it as needed.  The best time to do this is when cleaning the inside of the glass.

CLEAN THE GLASS!

And speaking of cleaning the glass, whether it’s ceramic or tempered glass, keeping the inside of the glass clean is important. Both ceramic and tempered glass get dirty.  By keeping it clean, you will be able to regularly inspect the gasket seal.  And, in addition to that soothing heat, you will enjoy a beautiful view of the fire.

There are separate glass cleaners available for wood burning appliances and gas equipment.  A bottle will last a long time and is inexpensive.  Your WE LOVE FIRE dealer has it in stock.

Remember the ceramic glass on your fireplace, stove or insert can be quite expensive to replace.  $200 – $300.00 is not uncommon.  So, easy does it!

Are Fireplaces Safe?

Whether its gas or wood, fireplaces, stoves and inserts have always been popular among homeowners.  But perhaps you don’t use the one in your home because you are concerned about its safety?  Maybe you’re not sure about operating or maintaining your appliance.  Maybe you don’t know who to call for questions.  Or could it be that it’s more convenient for you to just crank up the thermostat if you’re chilly?  Let’s talk about fireplace safety.

WOOD VS. GAS

Regardless of the fuel being used, a fireplace, stove or insert can cause serious problems if it is not installed, operated and maintained correctly.  The majority of tragic stories we hear about can be directly linked to an improper installation, poor operating practices or a lack of necessary fireplace maintenance.

Gas fireplaces should be installed by a professionally trained and certified technician.  There is a great deal of skill and knowledge that goes into extending, pressure testing and connecting a gas line.  Analyzing a venting profile, using a manometer, replacing a gas valve or adjusting the air/fuel mix are jobs best left to a professional.

Once it’s safely installed, normal operation of a gas appliance is just clicking the remote or flipping a wall switch.  Any problems that arise can usually be observed by an odd flame pattern, having difficulty keeping the unit running or simply noticing dirty glass.  Any strange or unusual symptoms from a gas fireplace would warrant a call to your WE LOVE FIRE dealer.  A beeping noise may be the exception to that.  A small, flashing red light or a consistent “beep” indicates a low battery.  Most are easily replaced by the homeowner.

Wood burning fireplaces, stoves and inserts are a different critter than their gas cousins.  Again, an installation following all manufacturers recommendations and appropriate codes is crucial.  There are several clearance requirements to anything combustible that must be met when installing any type of wood burning equipment.  Clearances to mantles, hearths and trim as well as adequate spacing for framing, including the chimney, is critical for a safe installation.

WAS IT INSTALLED CORRECTLY?

You might be asking: “So how do I know if my fireplace was installed appropriately?”  A good question and one your nearby WE LOVE FIRE dealer can assess and answer for you.  Your dealer’s expertise includes looking for subtle signs of overheating, warped or damaged chimneys, charred wood, etc.  We are familiar with and know the requirements for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 211.  Ignoring this code could threaten your home and family.  We are a resource that can help you enjoy a safe fire in your living room and will help you sleep better at night!

OPERATION:

If your fireplace has an owner’s manual, read it.  If you don’t have a copy of it, get one.  Most manufacturers will archive old manuals and have them available online or through a dealer.  If it’s a wood burning fireplace, there will be information regarding air control, how to start a fire and suggestions for proper burning techniques, ash removal, door and gasket maintenance and chimney cleaning.  It’s worth spending an occasional 5 or 10 minutes of your time to insure proper operation and maintenance.

The same advice goes for a gas fireplace.  Read the owner’s manual.  The majority of gas fireplaces are set up on a remote control or wall switch.  Operation of a gas appliance is usually just turning the unit on and off.  Yes there are adjustable gas valves that vary the heat output, timers that automatically shut off equipment, lighting effects that enhance the flame presentation, but this is all explained in detail in your owner’s manual.  Keep it handy and periodically refer to it in order to get the best from your fireplace.  Recognize what’s normal for your fireplace, so when a fan needs attention or flame pattern has changed, you’ll notice something is amiss and we’re just a phone call away.

Dog in the livingroom while fireplace is on. Are fireplaces dangerous?

MAINTENANCE:

A lot has been written about fireplace maintenance and chimney cleaning.  And, rightly so.  The potential loss of property and life is downright scary.  So, spend a few minutes with these articles.  We think you’ll find them interesting and informative:

LINK to:

ENJOY!

We are all aware of the benefits of having a fireplace, stove or insert in our home: the warmth, the ambiance the feeling of comfort.  With a proper installed  appliance, with correct operating practices and with regular, routine maintenance, the feeling of safety and security can be added to the list too.

How Fireplace Inserts Work

A fireplace insert is designed to be installed into an existing wood burning A fireplace.  A fireplace insert is never to be built into a 2×4, framed wall.  An insert is a fantastic way to upgrade an old, inefficient, energy wasting masonry or zero clearance fireplace.  It can solve several problems for you and will provide some serious heat for your home.  Expect efficiencies in the mid-80’s range for a new insert vs single digits for an old, opening burning fireplace.

But are they difficult to install?  And, how do they work?  This article will give you a better understanding of how an insert functions and the benefits of installing one in your home.

GAS INSERTS

Gas fireplaces inserts come in several sizes. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call them small, medium and large.  So, depending on the dimensions of your fireplace, your WE LOVE FIRE dealer will have a few models that will be a good fit.

Gas inserts are sealed combustion units, meaning they get their air for combustion purposes from the outside, not air from inside the house.  When a gas insert is installed, two flexible aluminum liners are positioned in the chimney.  One of these liners brings air into the unit for combustion to occur.  The other liner is used to expel the by-products of combustion out of the insert.  Air is coming in on one and the exhaust gases are leaving on the other liner.

If there is a damper in the fireplace, it must be removed or permanently disabled to prevent it from damaging the aluminum liners.

There are literally dozens of optional fronts available for a gas insert.  Styles, colors and materials that reflect your home’s decor and lifestyle are readily available for any size gas insert.

The control on a gas fireplace insert is typically done with a remote control.  Some remotes simply turn the unit on and off.  Other remotes feature multi-functions, such as adjusting flames patterns, maintaining a constant room temperature, adjusting the effects of accent lighting or varying the speed of the blower fan.

Other popular options on a gas insert include media choices.  The ‘logs’ in a gas fireplace insert do not have to be ‘logs’ anymore!  Driftwood, glass beads or river stones can give a unique look and feel to the fire.  And optional refractories (that is, the sides and back of the firebox) can match the fireplace brick or stone or provide a mirrored, reflective enhancement of the flames.

A gas and electric line are needed for a gas insert to function.  Ideally, both are installed within the firebox, so neither will be showing on the hearth.  It looks much better if the electric and gas supply can be installed via a clean-out from the basement or brought into the side or bottom of the fireplace without being seen from the family room.

WOOD BURNING INSERTS

A wood burning insert looks like a free-standing wood burning stove, but without legs or a pedestal base.  This ‘stove’ comes in several sizes, depending on the size of the fireplace.  A wood burning fireplace insert is slid into the fireplace opening.  A six-inch stainless-steel liner is installed in the existing chimney to create the draft and remove the smoke and by-products of burning wood.  This six-inch stainless liner is sized to match the flue collar on the insert and should run up the entire height of the chimney.

Incidentally, some of the trickiest installation work that’s done is to install a wood burning insert.  Picture this:  try to position a 400+ pound insert in front of the fireplace.  Then, slide it across the hearth (without damaging the stone or tile or marble) and then into the firebox while trying to snake a 6” stainless-steel pipe through the damper and securing it to the flue collar can be an extremely difficult project!

Unlike a gas insert, wood burning inserts will use room air for combustion.  The amount of combustion air is carefully monitored by the air control on the insert.  Specially engineered and designed ‘re-burn’ systems on today’s highly efficient EPA certified inserts, will actually burn most of the by-products of combustion.  With properly seasoned wood, you will notice very little smoke coming out of the chimney.  Secondary burn tubes or catalytic combustors have made today’s wood burning inserts (and stoves) incredibly friendly to the environment.

There will be a little finesse needed when learning how to control the heat from a wood insert.  More air to the fire means more active flames and more heat output.  Less air means lower flames and less heat output, but longer burn times with a load of wood.  You’ll get the hang of it quickly!

Options with wood burning inserts may include different door styles and a blower fan.  Since most inserts are designed with a convective air chamber, your WE LOVE FIRE expert will recommend an appropriate fan.  They’re standard on many models but if not, spring for the optional fan.  They’re worth it.  Door styles may be another option on a wood burning fireplace insert.

PELLET INSERTS

A pellet insert performs just like a pellet stove.  Pellets are held in a storage bin and the ‘feed rate’ is set depending on the heat output that’s needed.  An electric line powers the small motors for the auger system, blower fan and the exhaust fan.

Since we’re burning a solid fuel, we’ll need to reline the existing chimney with a stainless-steel liner for a pellet insert to function properly.  However, most pellet inserts will require a 3” or 4” stainless liner, not the 6” liner that a wood burning insert needs.

A remote control with a pellet insert is standard on most models.  The remote will allow you to adjust the feed rate.  The faster you feed the pellets through the system, the more heat.  The slower the feed rate, the longer the bin full of pellets will last and less heat will be delivered.

ELECTRIC INSERTS

An electric insert is easy to operate and simple to install.  Since no fuel is actually being burning, there is no need for any type of liner up the existing fireplace chimney.  Often, the most time-consuming part of electric projects is physically getting the electric line into the fireplace.  Then, just slide the electric model into the fireplace and plug it in!

Controlling an electric model is easy.  Remotes come with each unit and allow you turn the heating element on and off, adjust the lighting effects and the fan speed.

SURROUND PANELS

Regardless of fuel type, decorative panels will surround a fireplace insert.  These panels are meant to give the insert a nice, clean, finished look by eliminating the space between the insert itself and the facing material of the fireplace.  Surround panels are often made of steel, but depending on the model, might be cast iron.  The panels come in several standard sizes but are often customized to accommodate unusual sizes, arches, or corner fireplaces.

CLEARANCE REQUIREMENTS

We should mention that following clearance requirements from the manufacturer of inserts is critical.  Details of necessary clearances to wood mantles, side trim wood moldings and hearth requirements will be specified in the insert’s manual.  Pay particular attention to mantles and the hearth, especially for those inserts that may protrude forward onto the hearth several inches.

Getting an insert certainly is a good option to make the most out of your open masonry fireplace and will definitely heat your space better!  Your local We Love Fire expert will be happy to give you personalized advice to get your project moving forward!

What Are The Key Points To Installing A Fireplace?

You don’t have to have a degree in propulsion engineering to install your own fireplace.  However, it is critical that you are aware of several very important details, precisely follow all the installation details from the manufacturer and never compromise code requirements or safety concerns.  Obviously, you’ll need some carpentry skills and the right tools.  But, if you want to tackle a fireplace installation yourself, keep reading.  We will give you several pointers in this article.

CLEARANCE REQUIREMENTS

As we discuss any hearth product, two terms that you need to thoroughly understand are clearance requirements and combustibles.  Clearances refer to a specific distance.  And, combustibles are anything that can ignite and burn.  For example, if the clearance requirement for a chimney pipe is 2” to combustibles, the chimney must stay a minimum of 2” away from any framing members, drywall, asphalt roof shingles or anything else that could catch fire if it got hot enough.  We’ve said it before and it bears repeating now: more is always better when it comes to clearance requirements.  If, in this example the clearance is 2”, there’s nothing wrong with installing the chimney 3” or 4” away from a wooden framing member.

The primary question to ask yourself when installing a fireplace is “What’s the clearance requirement for this?”  And “this” will be several items including: wooden framing, the chimney pipe (for a wood burning fireplace) or the co-axial vent pipe (for gas), the mantel, the hearth, the finishing facing materials, any windows or doors, the distance above grade, above the roof.  The list goes on.

During an installation, clearances should be your main concern and constantly on your mind.  Never, ever scrimp on any required clearance.  All will be outlined in the owner’s manual.

THE FIRST STEPS

Before you even purchase a fireplace, be fully aware of the chimney or venting requirements of the equipment you’re considering.  Gas appliances can be horizontally through a sidewall or vertically vented through the roof.  Wood burning fireplaces must have the chimney installed vertically.  Will the location you’re planning on, work?

Keep in mind, that there will be minimum and maximum heights for a chimney system.  Your chimney is the engine, so to speak, that allows the wood burning fireplace to perform as designed.

Likewise for a co-axial vent pipe for a gas unit.  There will be minimums and maximums outlined for you to review.   Called the “venting profile”, the vertical rise/horizontal run relationship will be detailed in the owner’s manual.

Because of several different venting options, gas fireplaces are much more versatile  than their wood-burning counterparts.

Regardless of the fuel you intend to burn, make sure the chimney or venting requirements will be met.

FRAMING

Specifications for the framing details are found in the owner’s manual.  Framing is usually straight-forward, but if you’re planning a TV or something heavy above the fireplace, give some thought to beefing up the framing.  This can be easily done by installing a couple of horizontal 2 x 8’s or 2 x 10’s between the studs.  This way, you’ll have additional strength and it will be much simpler to locate the mounting hardware for the TV, or something rock solid to hang that elk rack on!

THE HEARTH

A wood fireplace requires a hearth.  Gas equipment may or may not require one.  When planning the hearth, make sure it complies with the minimum requirements from the fireplace manufacturer.  Again, with clearances, more is better.  So, if the clearance requirement for the hearth in the manual needs to be 4 feet wide and 18 inches deep, go 5 feet wide and 22” or 24” deep.  You won’t regret it.

THE FINISHING TOUCHES!

When the conversation turns to finishing a fireplace, there are dozens of options to consider.  Cultured stone, brick, tile, marble, stainless steel, iron or a combination of these are all possibilities.  This is the time to show your creativity!  As we stated earlier, just be certain that all clearance requirements are met, and hopefully exceeded.

MANTELS

The majority of fireplaces will have a mantel of some sort.  And yup, if you’re thinking there might be a clearance requirement, your right!  Because there is!  The owner’s manual will have the requirements clearly stated.  Unless it is a non-combustible mantle, consider installing the it a bit higher above the fireplace opening than required and a little deeper than the minimum.  This is especially important if you’re planning a big screen TV above the fireplace.

Your WE LOVE FIRE expert has a line of non-combustible mantels that would enhance any fireplace in a family room.  And, be sure to ask about the unique MantelMount system.  This is absolutely the best way to mount a television above your fireplace!