Atlanta fireplace experts field questions
Atlanta fireplace experts
Chuck Conner, owner
Atlanta Chimney Doctor
Grover Dobbins, vice president
Log Lighter Sales Inc.
Do fireplaces reduce heating costs in winter?
Scott Clawson: "Not much, if you're using a fireplace. A wood-burning stove is designed to be able to heat 2,000 square feet or more."
Chuck Conner: "With a normal masonry fireplace, most of the heat goes right up and out. A wood stove will help a lot."
Grover Dobbins: "A fireplace actually creates a draft that sucks heated air out of the room, although gas fires create less of a draft. They're not good for heating a house."
What kind of maintenance should you perform on your fireplace?
Clawson: "Always have the fireplace and chimney inspected yearly and make sure the chimney is clean. Flue fires are common this time of year."
Conner: "Have your chimney inspected by a sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America [csia.org]. Make sure they're insured and ask to see proof."
Dobbins: "For a gas unit, we'll refurbish the fireboxes, add new embers, check the pilot light and get it ready to go."
What safety concerns should I keep in mind?
Clawson: "Watch out for creosote, the residue from combustion. It reduces efficiency and can catch on fire. It burns very hot and can melt the chimney."
Conner: "Make sure you have fresh batteries in your smoke detector and get a carbon monoxide detector for each floor."
Dobbins: "Make sure your gas is turned off when your unit's not in use. If you leave your pilot light on, check it every now and then and make sure it hasn't blown out, or you'll have natural gas feeding into the house."
What's the best kind of wood to burn?
Clawson: "You want a hardwood, like oak, that's been seasoned. Soft woods like pine aren't recommended. Unseasoned wood is dirtier and won't completely burn."
Conner: "Seasoned oak that's been allowed to dry for at least a year. Don't ever burn pine. It produces lots of sap, which causes lots of creosote."
Dobbins: "You want dry, seasoned wood. The particular kind of wood is more a matter of preference, and you should talk to your supplier."
How much does a standard fireplace cost?
Clawson: "A prefabricated metal fireplace would cost about $1,200, not counting the stone or masonry work. A wood stove would be in the neighborhood of $4,000."
Conner: "It varies per job and depends on what kind of fireplace you want."
Dobbins: "A vent-free gas unit will cost you $600 and up. If you're installing a whole new fireplace and flue system, it's a big cost."