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Fireplace Inserts: Everything You Need To Know

Michigan is known for its harsh weather, and it is not uncommon for temperatures to drop well below freezing during the coldest months. It is then important that you ensure that your home’s heating systems are up to the task of keeping you warm year-round. If you rely on your home’s fireplace as a source of heat for your home’s living spaces, then you may want to consider investing in a fireplace insert in order to boost the efficiency of your fireplace and to ensure that it provides maximum comfort to your home.

What many homeowners do not realize is that traditional fireplaces are extremely inefficient, as they only radiate roughly 10 percent of the heat they produce into a room. Installing a fireplace insert in your home can help to drastically improve the heating power of your fireplace by increasing its efficiency by up to 80 percent. However, if you are not familiar with fireplace inserts, then you likely have a lot of questions about what they are, how they work, and whether or not investing in a fireplace insert would be a good option for your home. To help you make an informed decision, here is a look at everything you need to know about fireplace inserts.

What is a Fireplace Insert?

If you have not previously heard of fireplace inserts, then you may be uncertain as to what they are. Similar to a wood stove, a fireplace insert is a steel or cast iron box with an insulated glass front that is installed into an existing masonry fireplace in order to improve its efficiency. The insert is designed to contain and radiate heat back into the room, cutting down on the inefficiencies of traditional fireplaces. 

While it may feel like your fireplace is heating your home, it is really only providing minimal heat to the area immediately surrounding your fireplace. Much of the heat that the fire in your fireplace is producing is being wasted, as a lot of warm air is being sucked out of your chimney.

How Do Gas Fireplace Inserts Work?

Fireplace inserts help to reduce the inefficiencies of fireplaces by containing heat within its shell. The insert has its own firebox that fits within your fireplace, and the fire can be viewed through a window within the insert’s door. As the insert’s firebox heats up, the metal shell contains the heat and circulates it back into the room. Many fireplace inserts even have a blower that helps to push hot air back into a room through the insert’s front vents. The insert’s design then helps to cut down on wasted energy by helping to contain the fire’s heat and direct it where it is meant to go, which is into your home. Fireplace inserts come in a variety of designs and styles, and they can be powered by a variety of fuel sources including electricity, gas, propane, wood, pellets, or coal, depending on the type that you choose.  

Are Fireplace Inserts Expensive?

If you think a fireplace insert could be a good option for your home, you may find yourself asking whether they are expensive. Like many appliances you will invest in for your home, the cost of a fireplace insert will vary quite drastically depending on a variety of factors including its size, features, and fuel source. In fact, a fireplace insert can cost anywhere between $1,500 and $6,500 or more depending on the specifications of the unit you choose. However, purchasing a fireplace insert can truly be seen as making an investment in your home, as they can help to reduce the cost of heating your home, saving you money over time.   

How Long Do Fireplace Inserts Last?

Of course, if you are going to be making a substantial investment in your home, you will want to know that your investment will last for years to come. So exactly how long do fireplace inserts last? As with most things, how long your fireplace insert lasts will depend on how well you take care of it. However, when properly maintained, a fireplace insert can last 20-30 years or more, making them a great investment in the future of your home. 

How Do I Size a Gas Fireplace Insert?

If you have decided that you want to invest in a fireplace insert for your home, you will need to determine what size insert you need before you start looking at designs and styles. 

Measure Your Fireplace

Your first step will be to get a measuring tape out and take measurements of your current fireplace. Measurements that you will need to take include the height and width of the front opening of your fireplace, the depth of your fireplace, and the height and width of the back wall of your fireplace. Knowing these measurements can help you to choose a fireplace that will fit in your firebox.

Determine What Gas Output You Need

Next, you will need to decide the heat output that you will want your insert to produce, as fireplace inserts are designed to produce between 30,000 and 85,000 BTUs per hour or more. Ultimately, how powerful a fireplace insert you will need will depend on a variety of factors including the size of the space that you plan on heating.

For instance, if you only need your fireplace insert to heat a small den or living room, a 30,000 BTU insert may be sufficient. However, if you plan on heating a large space, or if your home has poor insulation, then you may want to go with a more powerful unit. A knowledgeable contractor can help you to determine what size fireplace insert will be best for your home based on your unique needs.

Can I Install a Gas Fireplace Insert Myself?

Once you have chosen a fireplace insert, you may wonder if you can install it yourself. While installing a fireplace insert may seem as simple as sliding the unit into place, it is actually a complicated process. Before the fireplace insert can be installed, your chimney will need to be cleaned, inspected, and lined with a flue liner that will be connected to the fireplace insert. Then, depending on the type of insert you purchased, the fireplace insert may need to be connected to your home’s electricity or your gas line. If any of these steps are not done properly, your fireplace insert could become a safety risk, making it critical that you work with an experienced fireplace contractor when adding a fireplace insert to your home. 

Contact us to learn more about gas fireplace inserts, as well as to inquire about having one installed in your home before winter arrives.