Month: January 2016

Which is better wood or gas fireplaces?

Woman warming hands up at fireplace. Young girl relaxing resting. Winter at home.

Gas vs Wood

Fireplace pros and cons

The weather is getting cold across the country. And as the temperatures keep dropping, more and more people are turning to their fireplace to be a source of warmth and comfort after being out in the frigid air. But, if you start to ask people which type of fire place they like more and which type is worth getting, you will find a wide array of people on both sides of the gas versus wood argument. And locally, here in Knoxville, you will find that people are just as split about which is better for warming a home.

We will take a quick look at the pros and cons of both and provide you with a good source to turn to if you’re looking to buy a house with a fireplace or add one to your current home to enjoy the cost savings and relaxing therapy it can bring to your life.

Fireplace Basics

The most widely used type of fireplace in Knoxville is a single-piece brick hearth with an attached brick chimney. The fireplace consists of a small trap door that opens onto an ash pan, a wrought-iron grate to hold kindling and logs. Mortared into the chimney is a steel damper, which can be adjusted by opening or closing it to control the amount of air drawn into the fire and exhausted through the chimney.

Wood stoves or zero-clearance fireplaces have been around for a very long time and have experienced lots of improvements and modifications over the years. If you are looking to heat your house with the fireplace, these types of fireplaces will transfer heat much faster than the standard brick fireplace will. Brick fireplaces don’t heat very well because most of the heat will go up and out. The upside of the brick fireplace is that the bricks around the fireplace work as a heat sink that will absorb much of the heat as it is traveling up and then slowly release the heat back out into the air over time. So they will not heat up fast, but they will retain the heat longer.

The type of Fireplace you choose to install depends on how you plan to use your fireplace. Are you looking to use it as a heat source, or for its relaxing ambiance?

While these two types of fireplaces can burn either gas or wood, each fuel source has its own pros and cons.

Wood Burning Fireplace

A wood burning fireplace is the one you most commonly see. It sets the mood for a room: the dancing flames, the crackle and pops of the wood and the smell of wood burning. There are very few things that can set the mood and add ambiance to a room like a wood burning fireplace can.

The biggest difference between a wood and a gas fireplace is the simple fact that you either need wood or gas! Now, if you live in the country, getting wood is as easy as walking out into the woods and finding a fallen tree and you have a source of fire wood, but living in a town area or even downtown Knoxville you do not get this option of having a large supply of wood right out the back door. And more than a few neighbors might get upset if you walk out your front door with an axe and just start picking out trees around you to chop down. If you live in a populated area where you can’t go out and get your own fire wood, then you need to plan where you will need to go to buy it or who to contact to have it delivered to you so you are able to use your fireplace.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a wood burning fireplace/stove will need to be cleaned more often. After a fire, there is soot and ash that needs to be cleaned and the chimney will also need to be checked more often for creosote buildup inside the chimney itself.

Natural Gas Fireplace

The first plus that many people see when they debate between gas and wood is the simple fact that once a gas fireplace is put out there isn’t any extra work needed to use it. No need to go out gathering logs, cutting logs, or having to find somewhere to buy logs. Instead of having to build a fire, you push a button, and you have a fire up and going. No hassle, no mess.

A gas fireplace can be put in much more easily than a wood burning one if you’re looking to add a fireplace to your house. Since they are built to be efficient, the vapors they let off are cool enough to run through PVC pipes, letting you easily vent them out of your house from anywhere.

Many will also have built in fans to allow you to circulate and move air around to better heat a room. The biggest selling point for gas fireplaces is the ease of us: walk in, push a button and enjoy.

The Wrap Up

For some people, the idea of convenience and the push of a button will win out over all else because sometimes you just want things to be simple. But many people can’t get past the soul-less look of a gas fire. None of the life and sound that makes a fireplace so great at setting a mood, the blue and yellow flame shooting out of a pipe to heat ceramic logs just lacks the same impact a wood burning fire will give you.

If you’re looking from a price stand point of operating wood-burning and gas fireplaces, they are both on the low side if compared to electric heat. On average a cord of wood is anywhere between $120 and $150, depending on your location and the type and condition of wood. If you’re planning to go wood you should figure you will go through on average 3 cords per burning season. Natural gas runs from 20 to 40 cents per hour for an average gas fireplace.

Also remember that if you have a chimney, the fire code lays out that it should be inspected once a year by a professional chimney sweep in order to prevent the buildup of creosote which is the main cause of chimney fires.

Whether you are leaning towards a gas or a wood fireplace, both can be a great choice and your decision will boil down to the work you want to put into it, and the type of atmosphere you want it to create for you and your family. And when it comes time for the yearly cleaning to keep your chimney in good shape, don’t forget to give us a call, as we are Knoxville’s go to for all its chimney sweeping needs!