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Factory built fireplaces are they any different ?

Factory-built fireplaces operate in the same way that masonry fireplaces do. They share the same components. Room air can enter a factory-built fireplace at the bottom of the unit near the floor, and wrap around the firebox through chambers. As the air is heated around the firebox, it flows upward. At the top of the factory-built fireplace, air registers allow the warm circulating air to exit and enter the room. Some fireplaces are equipped with circulating fans.

Factory-built fireplaces do not require a concrete foundation. Although most factory-built fireplaces are metal, pre-manufactured, modular, masonry fireplaces are also available. These masonry models incorporate special engineering techniques, including venting systems.

Factory-Built Chimneys

A factory-built chimney should be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  All pre-fabricated chimneys must have a label from an approved agency that states the type of appliance with which the chimney was tested for use, a reference to the manufacturer’s instructions, and the minimum clearances to combustibles. The manufacturer’s instructions should contain every aspect of the installation of the chimney, including component assembly, clearances, supports, terminations, fire-blocking or fire stops, and connections. 

To ensure safe and efficient use of wood-burning stoves, the following tips to our clients:

Never:

  • burn coal. Coal burns significantly hotter than wood, posing a fire hazard.
  • burn materials that will emit toxic chemicals, such as wood that has been pressure-treated or painted, colored paper, gift wrapping, plastic, plywood, particleboard, or questionable wood from furniture.
  • burn wet wood. Generally speaking, it takes six months for cut, stored wood to dry out and be ready for use in wood-burning stoves.
  • burn combustible liquids, such as kerosene, gasoline, alcohol or lighter fluid.
  • let small children play near a lit wood-burning stove. Unlike standard fireplaces, whose sides are mostly inaccessible, all sides of wood stoves are exposed and capable of burning flesh or clothing.
  • let the fire burn while the fire screen or door is open.

Always:

  • use a grate to hold the logs so that they remain secured in the stove and the air can circulate adequately around them to keep the fire burning hot;
  • keep the damper open while the stove is lit;
  • dispose of ashes outdoors in a water-filled, metal container;
  • check smoke alarms to make sure they are working properly; and
  • periodically remove the stovepipe between the stove and the chimney so that it can be inspected for creosote. Homeowners may want to hire a professional to perform this service.

The following telltale signs indicate that the fire in a wood-burning stove suffers from oxygen deprivation and incomplete combustion, which will increase the emission of particulates into the air:

  • It emits dark, smelly smoke. An efficient stove will produce little smoke.
  • There is a smoky odor in the house.
  • There is soot on the furniture.
  • The stove is burning at less than 300º F. A flue pipe-mounted thermometer should read between 300º F and 400º F.
  • The flames are dull and steady, rather than bright and lively.

To ensure efficiency, homeowners should follow these recommendations:

  • Purchase a wood-burning stove listed by Underwriters Laboratories. Stoves tested by UL and other laboratories burn cleanly and efficiently.
  • Burn only dry wood. Wood that has a moisture content (MC) of less than 20% burns hotter and cleaner than freshly cut wood, which may contain half of its weight in water.
  • Burn hardwoods, such as oak, hickory and ash, once the fire has started. Softwoods, such as pine, ignite quicker and are excellent fire starters. 
  • Make sure the stove is properly sized for the space. Stoves that are too large for their area burn inefficiently.
  • Burn smaller wood pieces rather than larger ones. Smaller pieces of wood have a large surface area, which allows them to burn hotter and cleaner.

In summary, a wood-burning stove, if properly designed and used appropriately for the space, is an efficient and clean way to heat a home.

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