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Milwaukee Fireplace Questions Answered

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Q: Do Gas Fireplaces Require Any Maintenance?


Unlike wood burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces don’t require a yearly cleaning to remove built up creosote inside the chimney. However, they aren’t entirely maintenance-free, and an annual inspection is necessary. A poorly maintained gas fireplace can be result in a fire, carbon monoxide poisoning or even an explosion. The most common problems with gas fireplaces are a blocked vent, malfunctions of internal mechanisms, and worn out or dirty components.

Q: How do direct vent fireplaces work?


Unlike traditional wood burning fireplaces, direct vent fireplaces are sealed with a glass door.  To enable combustion of the natural gas fueling them, they draw in outside air through an intake pipe. Carbon monoxide and other combustion byproducts are expelled outside through another pipe.

Since no air from inside your home is drawn into the fireplace, the warm air in your home doesn’t go up the chimney—as it does with a wood-burning fireplace. Direct vent fireplaces have efficiency ratings in the 70 to 90% range.

One of the many advantages of a direct vent fireplace is that it can be vented horizontally through a wall or vertically. They are also ideal for zone heating in areas of the house that tend to stay colder than other areas, like basements, as well as for additions which may lack HVAC venting for the heating system.

Q: What is the most affordable fireplace I can get?


We'd recommend an electric fireplace insert. Since it doesn't need to vent outdoors, it's a great choice for installing in a nonfunctioning chimney or in a pre-built hearth which can easily be installed just about anywhere in your house. These fireplaces provide enough heat to feel cozy when you're sitting within 10 feet of them, although the "flames" will obviously lack the realism of a gas or wood burning fireplace. Total cost, including installation, runs from $500 to $1,500.

Q: Is smoke from a wood-burning fireplace hazardous?


While occasional exposure to the small amount of smoke produced by a wood-burning fireplace isn't likely to kill anyone, there is evidence to suggest it probably isn't particularly healthy--particularly if you regularly heat your home with a fireplace. It has been shown that the smoke from firewood contains benzene, formaldehyde and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which are classified as possible carcinogens by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you rely on a wood-burning fireplace as a primary source of heat, our best advice is to use properly dried hardwoods for fuel. Green woods and those that aren't completely dried will product more smoke than a kiln-dried or properly aged hardwood.

Q: Will mounting a TV above my fireplace cause damage to the TV?


Most of the heat from a fireplace goes up an exhaust or is blown out into the room, so it’s usually not a problem. To be safe, though, we recommend the TV be mounted at least 10” above the fireplace. Even better, a mantel below the TV helps disperse any rising heat from the fireplace.

Before mounting a TV above a fireplace, it’s a good idea to check the warranty on your TV to make sure the manufacturer doesn’t state the warranty is void if the TV is mounted above a fireplace. Even if a TV develops problems unrelated to it being mounted above a fireplace, the manufacturer may disallow any warranty claim if their warranty excludes coverage for a TV mounted above a fireplace. 

Q: Can stone veneer be installed over a brick fireplace?


Yes, if you have a brick fireplace, stone veneer can be applied over it (as long as it is unpainted brick and not a smooth-surfaced brick). If the brick is not suitable for the base layer of mortar that needs to go over it, we simply install metal lath over it and then proceed with a layer of mortar for the veneer.

Q: How much does it cost to run a gas fireplace?


The cost of running a gas fireplace varies depending on its BTU rating and the cost of natural gas. Heat & Glo has a cost calculator on their website that allows you to choose the model of fireplace you want to get an operating cost on and enter the cost of natural gas in your area.

Generally speaking, a 40,000 BTU rated fireplace will cost around 40 cents per hour to operate. Since most gas fireplaces are used as auxiliary heating, or zone heating, the additional cost of running a gas fireplace is usually more than offset by the reduction in the primary heating source in the home.

Q: What is a gas fireplace insert?


A gas fireplace insert is a complete fireplace installed inside the firebox of an existing wood-burning fireplace. Since they are metal boxes, they give off more heat than a wood-burning fireplace or vented gas logs inside a conventional fireplace. Also, because gas fireplace inserts have a tight seal around the fireplace opening only a very small amount of the warmed air in the room goes up the chimney. Besides being more energy efficient than a wood burning fireplace, a gas insert also eliminates the health and environmental concerns that come with a wood-burning fireplace.

Q: In a power outage, will a gas fireplace still work?


Yes. If your gas fireplace has a standing pilot, it can be lit during a power outage because electricity isn’t required to activate the pilot flame. Heatilator and Heat & Glogas fireplaces made in recent years are equipped with IntelliFire or IntelliFire Plus ignition systems, which use battery backup systems for lighting the pilot in a power outage (two D cell batteries for IntelliFire, four AA batteries for IntelliFire Plus). If your fireplace has a wireless remote or wall switch, find the control box in the lower controls of the fireplace or behind the stove and look for a switch that toggles between “on”, “Off” and “remote.” Slide the switch to “on” so you can operate the fireplace with the power off. If you have any questions about this, feel free to give us a call.

Q: Do you offer any natural stone veneer products?


Yes, we carry the ErthCOVERINGS line of natural stone veneer, tiles and pebble mats as well as Stone Universe products. You can learn more about erthCOVERINGS stone veneer and Stone Universe natural stone veneer on our website, but we recommend stopping by our showroom in Waukesha to see (and feel) these products firsthand.

Waukesha Fireplace Installation Experts Answer Commonly Asked Questions

Choosing the perfect fireplace can be difficult. Especially with so many things to consider when making your decision. Our Waukesha fireplace experts at Badgerland Fireplace Inc. are here to help you make an educated choice for your new fireplace. On this page, we've answered some of the most common questions we get. If you have a question you don't see answered here, or would just like more information, don’t hesitate to contact us at 262-796-9999. Our friendly staff will be happy to help in any way we can.

Contact Badgerland Fireplace Inc. today for more information about fireplace installation services in Milwaukee, Waukesha and the surrounding areas.