A fireplace is the one of the earliest methods used to heat homes around the world. Because today's modern homes are well-equipped with heating systems, fireplaces are now considered inefficient heating sources. Today, fireplaces are less about keeping a home heated and more about status, entertainment, and beauty.
Fireplaces are famous for being one of the most romantic places to cuddle. They are also a popular gathering place for friends and family, as the crackling and dancing of the flames is believed to have the power to relax the mind and warm the soul.
A fireplace is a square, rectangular, or arched opening, usually in a wall at the base of a chimney, lined with stone or masonry and used for an open fire within a structure. There are two types of fireplaces:
- Prefabricated (prefab).
A masonry fireplace can weigh 6 to 7 tons and it is made up of a:
- Ash dump
- Firebox dumper
- Smoke shelf
- Smoke chamber
- Mortar crown.
Prefab fireplaces have only been around for several decades. Unlike masonry fireplaces which are believed to be practically indestructible, certain components of a prefab fireplace will deteriorate in time. A prefab fireplace consists of a:
- Lightweight sheet metal firebox
- Metal chimney
- Chimney cap.
Types of Fireplaces
There are three types of fireplaces:
Traditional fireplaces are 100% wood burning. Split wood or wood chips may be used to build the fire. Commonly found in older homes, traditional fireplaces require consistent cleaning to control the build-up of flammable by-products such as creosote. If a home doesn't already have a traditional fireplace, adding a new one can be costly, which is why most modern constructions opt for a gas fireplace.
A gas fireplace uses propane or natural gas as the main fuel source. Artificial logs are built into the fireplace for effect and the fireplace is typically controlled by a switch or remote. Gas fireplaces are typically considered lower maintenance than traditional fireplaces, but natural gas is more expensive than wood chips or logs. While a gas fireplace is considered safer than a traditional fireplace, some would agree that the fire from a gas fireplace isn't as aesthetically pleasing as a traditional fireplace.
Faux fireplaces are purely decorative and they can be made out of wood, stone, marble, or brick.