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Fireplace Safety Considerations-Thoughts Before Consulting

Fri 12 Jan 2007 - 08:59

Fireplace Safety Considerations-Thoughts Before Consulting
By Jessica Brylan

Installing a fireplace in a home can be a mind bending chore. Looking at all the options available to you, many thoughts go through your head. The work involved. The money it will take. The place it should go. But, the main thought that should be hitting your mind concerns safety.

Comparing your options is a step-by-step methodical approach that you should probably consult with an expert. But, there are some things you can think about on your own. We'll go through them.

There are basically four different types of fireplaces. The traditional fireplace is what most people think of when they think of fireplaces. They burn logs in an attractive hole in the wall for lack of better words. The gas fireplace is much like the traditional in the fact that you still need that hole in the wall. But, the gas fireplace is convenient. It can be turned on with a switch. Then, there is the electric fireplace that also turns on by a switch, but it doesn't need a hole in the wall. Lastly, there is the ventless gel that doesn't need a hole in the wall either, it heats and lights rather easily even though it's not by a flip of a switch. In the nutshell, there's your rundown.

When installing a traditional fireplace, there are so many things for you to consider. You'll need a hearth, which is the floor space in front of the fireplace. It should be made of material that doesn't burn in case sparks fly out of the fire. Any contractor should know that. In fact, if they don't, that's your sign that you need to talk to someone else. You will also need a chimney for proper ventilation. The safety concerns with a traditional fireplace include the fire itself and the ventilation. There are metal screens that can protect your house from sparks that like to jump from logs. But, for the most part, with the proper ventilation, those sparks will normally fly up the chimney. So, proper ventilation is the key to keep from having a fire hazard as well as getting smoked out of your own house. All the precautions can be taken to ensure a safe fireplace experience. And it will normally run you anywhere from $5,000 to $7,500 in most areas.

When you think about the gas fireplace, many of the same concerns go through your head as when you were considering the traditional fireplace. You need proper ventilation, meaning a chimney. So, costs of installation are going to be about the same. Because even though you might not need a hearth, you still need a gas line. Gas lines can be very safe if installed correctly. But, I have seen some major fire damage caused by a simple malfunction. But, that's not your main concern. The special burners that come with a gas fireplace are designed to keep levels of carbon monoxide to a healthy minimum. But, as with all gas products, problems do arise from time to time and a gas fireplace could very well end up causing an extremely dangerous situation. By the way, carbon monoxide is a deadly toxic gas that is a byproduct of natural gas. You can't smell it at all. But, gas companies have put a distinct smell into the gas so that you can detect it. You should be aware of that. Also, a gas fireplace produces a water vapor that escapes throughout the house. This water vapor is a considerable amount. What it does is cause fungus and mold infestation. This can make you sick if you don't inspect your house regularly, in the hard to find areas, and make sure to treat those areas with the proper preventive chemicals.

Electric fireplaces don't require all of the installation considerations as the other two options. But, there are other concerns to be aware of when you are mulling it over. First of all, the electric is a concern because of the same situation as every other electrical appliance. Placement of an electric fireplace is confined to the outlets. Water should never be around an electrical fireplace. Electrical fireplaces don't produce much heat, so you will need an alternative heat source. Besides, if a power outage should occur, you won't be able to use the electric fireplace anyway. It's not my favorite choice, but you can save yourself quite a bit of money on this option.

The ventless gel is actually a striking option. Like the electric fireplace, no installation is required. It is very cost effective, thousands of dollars lower than the traditional and the gas. In fact, you can get a ventless gel fireplace for as low as $300. So, what are the safety precautions? The gel is made of an alcohol chemical that burns like a citronella candle if you've ever seen one of those. The alcohol produces a small amount of water vapor, but not as much as the gas fireplace. In fact, the water vapor hardly has a chance to escape the room since its quantity is so small it completely evaporates before going anywhere significant. So, safety precautions? Virtually none. The same precautions you would take if you had a candle burning on that romantic night.

Consulting an expert is always a good idea once you have weighed all the options yourself. Remember though, when you are discussing your "construction" needs with a contractor, think about what your "expert" is actually saying to you. They are in the business to make money and may give you very convincing reasons for upgrading because they have their own hidden agenda: making money from you. It's the game. Learn how to play it!

Jessica Brylan is a home improvement expert. She loves remodeling homes. She has even built a few. In all her work, she has split off into interior design every once in awhile. But, actual construction is her first love. She knows enough to get by with the big guys.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jessica_Brylan

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