What should I do before visiting the showroom?
If you’re looking to do something with your existing fireplace, having four measurements will help us figure out what will fit: the width and height of your fireplace opening, the depth from the opening to the back of your fireplace, and the width at the back where the firebox tapers. If you’d like to put a fireplace or stove into a room where you currently have nothing, then information about the room size and where you’d like to install it (exterior wall, in a corner, etc.) would be beneficial. Pictures never hurt either!
Can I convert my wood-burning fireplace to a gas fireplace?
Yes. For people who want the ambiance of their fireplace, but the convenience of gas—gas logs are ideal. They offer a realistic open flame, but not much heat. For those who would like to warm a substantial area, gas inserts are attractive and efficient zone heaters.
How do I know if I need an insert or a fireplace?
An insert is specifically designed to fit inside an existing wood burning fireplace with venting that runs up the chimney. Fireplaces come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be installed almost anywhere in the house. Direct vent fireplaces, the most popular type, don’t even require a chimney, just a simple pipe that can vent out a wall or the roof.
Will my gas fireplace or stove work if I lose power?
Yes. Most gas fireplaces, stoves and inserts have standing pilots or battery powered intermittent pilot ignitions (IPI) that require no electricity. The only thing that wouldn’t function in a power outage is a standard or optional blower that helps to distribute the heat.
How often should I have my fireplace serviced?
Your fireplace should be “tuned up” annually. If you are handy, your owners manual can provide you with all the information you need to do it yourself or we have factory–trained service technicians at your service.
Should I leave my pilot light on in the summer when I am not using it?
The choice is yours, but we recommend that you keep the pilot lit year round. The pilot flame does not use much gas and running it helps to prevent corrosive condensation from building up inside of the pilot tube.
How do I re-light my pilot?
This is simpler than you think and something that everyone should know how to do. Once you’ve done it a couple of times it will be less daunting, so you may want to practice. The first thing you need to do is locate the valve and controls. With most units these are located beneath the burner, usually behind a grill/louver. There is a knob (often black) on the valve that can be turned to three positions: off, pilot, and on. Turn it to the pilot position and push it down all the way and hold it in. This will start the flow of gas so be prepared to take the next step right away to prevent excessive gas buildup. Then press the piezo igniter button located next to the valve which will spark the pilot and light the flame. Continue to hold the knob in for 30 seconds to a minute after the pilot has been lit, as this allows the thermal generator to warm up so it can keep the gas flowing and the pilot lit. Once you have released the knob and the pilot flame has stayed on, turn the knob to the “on” position so that you can operate the unit. As always, the owner’s manual is an excellent resource for all things related to your gas unit.
What does “EPA certified” mean?
In 1990 the Environmental Protection Agency enacted strict regulations related to wood stoves, requiring that they burn much cleaner and more efficiently than their predecessors. While the intent of the new regulations was to reduce pollution, the added benefits to the end user are far greater. EPA certified stoves burn longer on the same amount of wood as older stoves while producing the same type of heat. They do this by burning the particulates in the smoke instead of just sending them up the chimney, providing an energy benefit while reducing emissions. A byproduct of these more sophisticated burn systems is an air wash that keeps the glass much cleaner, allowing you to view the beautiful fire.
What is the difference between catalytic and non-catalytic stoves?
In order to meet the EPA emission standards, manufacturers took two separate approaches: catalytic combustion and non-catalytic (or high-tech/secondary) combustion. In a catalytic stove, the smoke passes through a catalytic combustor (a ceramic honeycomb treated with platinum) in order to burn off the excess gases before they exit through the chimney, much like a catalytic converter works in your car. In a “high–tech” stove, secondary combustion occurs when air mixes with the exhaust gases right in the firebox, causing them to burn before going up the chimney. Each approach has its pluses and minuses, but we sell primarily non-catalytic stoves and inserts because they aren’t as temperamental and require less maintenance.
Will the glass door of my stove/insert stay clean?
As mentioned above, a pleasant by-product of the EPA mandate is the air wash systems that help the glass stay cleaner longer. It works by directing preheated air down across the glass to prevent the particulates in the smoke from condensing there, which could cause sooting that would obscure your view. The effectiveness of the air wash depends upon the quality of your fuel (seasoned vs. unseasoned wood) and how hot you burn your stove. In any event we have glass cleaner specifically formulated to clean soot and creosote available in our store.
Do I need a blower?
Contrary to popular belief, a blower does not make a stove or insert produce more heat. It does, however, help to distribute the heat more quickly throughout the home when that is practical. We ask pointed questions about your home to figure out what is going to work in your situation because the layout of your space goes a long way towards determining how effective a blower can be.
What is a zero clearance fireplace?
A zero clearance fireplace—also referred to as a prefab fireplace—is a factory built insulated metal box that does not require a foundation like a masonry fireplace does. Venting is simple by using a dedicated metal chimney pipe, and the clearance to wood framing is minimal. This allows installation virtually anywhere in your home.
What kind of pellets should I buy?
There are all sorts of pellets on the market, but we strongly recommend that you buy a premium or super premium brand. These pellets have a higher BTU yield per pound and produce less ash, making your stove more efficient and easier to maintain. Some brands may claim to be premium, but they don’t meet the strict standards laid out by the Pellet Fuels Institute. We’d be happy to point you in the right direction.
What sort of routine maintenance does my stove need in order to work properly?
Pellet stoves and inserts are wonderful heat sources if you follow this simple adage: take care of your stove and it will take care of you! Most of the basic tasks are fairly straightforward; they just need to be done on a regular basis. Clean the burn pot periodically, usually once or twice a week, to ensure that the air flows properly. It is convenient to clean the glass at this time because the stove is cool, although this is done more for aesthetic reasons. Some people empty the ash pan at this point, too, although every two to four weeks is all that’s necessary. If your model is equipped with an automatic igniter then cleaning around it should be done when you clean out the ashes in order to allow the air to flow and keep it functioning properly. Cleaning the heat exchanger keeps the stove working at its optimum efficiency and the method for doing this can vary from one model to another. There might be a built-in scraper attached to a rod on the front of the stove, allowing you to clean the tubes with an easy plunging action, or you may need to scrape with a special tool provided with the stove. Finally, check the hopper periodically for sawdust build-up (fines). Fuel in the hopper and auger tube should be emptied occasionally to prevent fines from gumming up the works. Allow the stove to run out of pellets, giving you a clear view of what needs to be inspected.