By Christiane Elssler. Fireplace. Published at Thursday, September 27th, 2018 - 02:04:10 AM.
Isn’t it funny how small things like that can take you back to your childhood when it was much simpler times? The thing is that wasn’t the only fireplace in the house. My father loved them and it grew on me too. We had a brick fireplace in the living room. The wall was brick and the fireplace matched. The other walls were wood and I could sit in that room for hours just looking out the window or reading a book. It was like the fireplace made all the difference in the world. A room without a fireplace was boring. A room with a fireplace came to life and invited you into it. Hot cocoa and picture puzzles are memories associated with the fireplace in the living room. But, we’ve kind of grown up a bit in our design of the fireplace. The other day, I helped a friend decide on a pyramid shaped fireplace. It sits on a base that is about a foot high and three feet wide by three feet long. The pyramid has four sides so it will sit square on the base. That’s a nice design.
The benefit to a ventless gas log fireplace outdoors is convenience and cost. The process of building proper ventilation and a chimney can often double the expense of custom fireplaces indoors or outside. Convenience is the ability to create a perfect flame pattern as easily as turning on a barbeque grill. Many gas log fireplaces have complex valve options that allow variable remote controls that alter flame height, on/off remotes, wall switches and thermostatic controllers that turn the fireplace on and off based on the temperature read at the thermostat. I do not recommend any of these valves in your backyard. A manual safety pilot kit has a standing pilot light that stays on always. As long as the pilot is burning, the fireplace can be controlled with a simple control knob. A couple of decorative ceramic pinecones or wood chunks hide the controls. Remotes, wall switches, thermostatic controls and other valves use batteries. Even a gas log fireplace that is under an overhang will be affected by moisture in the air. Here in Florida where humidity is tremendous, a battery operated valve will corrode within a year in most backyards.
This said however, in any wood burning fireplace it is vital to use the right kind of wood that is cut to a convenient size. Hardwoods such as oak or fruitwood are the best option as they give off the most heat. Softwoods such as birch give off a good heat but tend to be consumed pretty quickly, while pine contains a lot of spark forming resin that can spit all over your floor or rug. Ideally, logs should measure between 9 and 14 inches long although it doesn’t hurt to use a couple of larger logs on your fire to give it a bit of character. Only ever use seasoned wood in your fireplace. If you try to burn green wood the heat produced by combustion must dry the wood before it will burn and you risk a buildup of creosote in your chimney which creates an imminent fire hazard. In addition by using well seasoned wood you will you get a much hotter fire; thus creating more heat for your home. It is worth bearing in mind that all wood for burning should be seasoned for a minimum of six months and stored under cover, so it is best to buy and stack firewood well in advance of the coldest months.
There is no doubt that there is a great deal of joy to be had from an open fire, especially on a cold winter’s day, and nothing quite adds as much character to a room as a beautiful open fireplace. An open fire gives us the kind of primeval comfort that our ancestors probably felt while enjoying the crackling of a burning logs and the scent of wood smoke. There is an unmistakable quiet pleasure to be gained from watching soft flickering flames dancing in an open grate. While there are a lot of obvious advantages of using a wood burning stove there is nothing to touch the charisma of an open fireplace in your home. It not only adds tangible warmth to a room but it also serves as a focal point, especially in the country home where there is more likely to be natural fuel easily to hand.
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