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Improve Fireplace Efficiency With a Wood or Gas Insert

Few things can beat the ambiance created by a beautiful masonry fireplace. Unfortunately, few things are also as inefficient; masonry fireplaces are the most energy inefficient heating appliances available today, with as much as 90% of the produced heat going straight up the chimney. Improve Fireplace Efficiency With a Wood or Gas Insert IMG- Ann Arbor MI- Clean Sweeps of Michigan-w800-h597

Luckily, there is a way for homeowners to enjoy the look and feel of a crackling fire – without the energy inefficiency of a masonry fireplace. A new fireplace insert can be installed into your existing masonry fireplace, drastically improving efficiency. Below are just four of the many reasons why you should consider having a fireplace insert installed in your home.

1.    Improve efficiency

Open hearth masonry fireplaces are extremely inefficient, with the majority of the heat created by fires being lost up the chimney. Unfortunately, this inefficiency can also translate directly to higher energy costs; heated and cooled air from your home can also escape up the chimney. Because inserts burn using closed system combustion there is a much lower chance of energy loss. This increased efficiency can save money and reduce your heating and cooling costs; according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbeque Association, installing a fireplace insert into a masonry hearth can reduce energy bills by up to 40%.

2.    More flexibility in fuel choices

Whether you prefer the look and feel of wood, the convenience of gas, or something else entirely, fireplace inserts are available with many different fuel sources. This gives homeowners the freedom to find the fireplace and fuel source that best meets their heating needs.

3.    Avoid potential costly repairs

If your fireplace has been damaged from moisture, the elements, or overuse, it may no longer be able to burn safely. However, you may be able to continue using your fireplace – with few to no expensive repairs. Fireplace inserts can sometimes be used as a way to prevent masonry repairs; as the insert is installing directly into an existing fireplace, any firebox damage does not need to be repaired.

Inserts can do more than just replace a damaged firebox – they can also be used to improve the structural stability of the chimney system. However, because the same chimney and venting system are used for both masonry fireplaces and inserts chimney repairs may need to be done.

4.    Better for the environment

All modern inserts must be certified by the EPA. This means that all inserts undergo rigorous testing to ensure that the smallest amount of smoke and particulate emission is released as possible. For this reason inserts may be better for the environment – and your family. Those suffering from respiratory issues such as asthma or allergies may benefit from a home with a fireplace insert.

Installing a new fireplace insert can help improve the efficiency of your existing fireplace system. For more information on the benefits of installing an insert in your home, contact the fireplace experts at Clean Sweeps of Michigan today!

What Kind of Maintenance Should I Expect with a Wood Stove or Insert?

Wood Stove Maintenance - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of MichiganMany homeowners looking to switch from a masonry fireplace to an insert or stove do so, in part, to reduce the amount of cleaning, upkeep, and maintenance their fireplace requires. However, while these appliances do require significantly less maintenance than their masonry counterparts, there is still upkeep that must be done to keep the appliance working well.

Below you will find a discussion of the most common types of maintenance necessary for both wood stoves and inserts. While the level of work required varies by individual appliance, this should help provide an idea of what to expect before purchasing one of these heating appliances.

Wood stove maintenance

The addition of a wood stove is an excellent way to reduce overall heating costs while creating a warm and welcoming environment in your home. To keep the stove running efficiently, it should be regularly cleaned and inspected.

As with masonry fireplaces, the main area of maintenance for wood stoves is the flue. As the wood in the stove burns, it produces creosote, a black, tarry, and highly flammable substance that can coat the interior of the flue. Flues should be inspected and cleaned at least once per year to remove creosote along with additional ash or soot buildup. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, creosote is responsible for causing more than 70% of house fires in the United States each year.

In addition to keeping the flue clean, wood stove owners should take care to regularly remove the ashes from the stove as well as cleaning the seal and glass of the fireplace door. When doing regular maintenance such as this, abrasive chemicals should not be used; instead, use cleaners specially designed for fireplaces or simply wipe stove parts with a clean, damp cloth.

Wood burning insert maintenance

Fireplace inserts continue to gain popularity as they combine the look and feel of an open, masonry fireplace with the heating power of a wood stove. While wood burning inserts are not as efficient as their gas counterparts, they are more than 50% more efficient than a traditional fireplace.

While the EPA now certifies all wood burning inserts for efficiency, they still have many of the functions and features of a masonry fireplace. Because of this, wood burning inserts should also receive regular annual maintenance.

Due to the creosote created when burning wood, wood burning inserts should also have their flues regularly cleaned and inspected to prevent an excessive creosote buildup. As with any wood burning appliance, ashes should be regularly removed from the insert to keep the unit running efficiently. Homeowners can also clean the interior and exterior of the insert to remove ash and soot and keep their unit looking beautiful.

Whether you have a wood stove, wood burning insert, or other fireplace or heating appliance, regular maintenance is an important aspect of responsible ownership. To schedule an annual chimney sweeping and inspection, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today. Our expect staff can help answer any maintenance questions you may have about your wood stoves or inserts, as well as help you keep your appliances running safely and efficiently.

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