Fireplaces, Stoves and Inserts: What’s the Difference?

Fireplaces, stoves and inserts: if you just read those three words and thought they were synonymous, you’re not alone. Truth is, there is a big difference between fireplaces, stoves and inserts and you’re about to find out what those differences are.

What Makes A Fireplace A Fireplace?

A fireplace is a heating unit that consists of a firebox and hearth (bare bones). There are essentially two types of fireplaces: masonry and manufactured. A masonry fireplace is built on site, typically from brick and mortar or stone and mortar. A manufactured or prefabricated fireplace is a fireplace that is designed and constructed in a factory. This type of fireplace is already built when it arrives at your home.

Why Masonry?

Because a masonry fireplace is custom-built in your home, you have ultimate design freedom. However, when it comes to a masonry fireplace, the mason ultimately decides the safety, functionality and appearance of the finished product. Regardless of how flawless your design is, if the contractor doesn’t have the skills or knowledge of fireplaces required, you may end up with a big, expensive mess. There are many things to consider whether you are choosing gas, wood, or pellet fuel and it’s important that you work with a professional who knows what these factors are.

Why Factory?

A factory-built fireplace offers the convenience of knowing exactly what you are getting. When you install a manufactured fireplace, you are installing an engineered, safety-tested appliance that will look exactly like the picture. As far as looks go, most manufactured fireplaces are designed to look like stone or brick at a fraction of the cost. For many homeowners, this is a big selling point. Another benefit to manufactured fireplaces is that they are typically made of much lighter material than masonry fireplaces and therefore don’t require the same structural standards. They are also less invasive, which means they are much easier to replace than a masonry fireplace. However, these fireplaces don’t typically last as long and can only be used in conjunction with specific chimney types. If you are not prepared to install the proper chimney, you should not consider a factory-built fireplace.

OK, What’s An Insert And How Is It Different?

A fireplace insert is basically a firebox that is installed into an existing fireplace. Because they are contained, inserts tend to be more efficient than traditional fireplaces. When installing an insert, it is crucial that your existing chimney system be checked for compatibility and suitability with the insert you wish to install. If your insert is not the proper size for your chimney system, you can have serious issues with your system. Another thing to consider when choosing your insert is whether or not your chimney is approved for use with the type of fuel your insert requires. You must also have your chimney thoroughly inspected for any damage or deterioration prior to installation.

What Characterizes A Stove?

A stove is a freestanding heating appliance that can be moved around if needed. They are traditionally made of cast-iron and are desired for their traditional, classic feel. Like fireplaces and inserts, stoves can use a variety of fuels and can put out a good amount of heat. It is important to discuss the size of the room you are trying to heat, so that a professional can recommend the appropriate fuel-source. In addition, when choosing stove placement, you must consider distance from the walls as well as wall and floor protection (stove boards, hearth pads, etc.).

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If you need any type of hearth installation, whether a stove, a fireplace or an insert, you can count on the professional expertise at White Glove for every chimney service.