5 Common Fireplace Myths
By working in the fireplace industry for over a decade and being the resident expert amongst friends and family, I get to hear the most interesting and craziest questions. It’s become almost a party trick at weddings, where I get to meet someone new and hear their un-filtered, novice opinions all at the same time. Here are 5 fireplace-related myths that I hear all the time and that I’d like to set the record straight on:
1. Fireplaces aren’t efficient
While it’s true that a lot of existing older homes have open-burning, inefficient fireplaces, most new fireplaces sold are the opposite. If you purchase an older home you will probably inherit this type of fireplace, typically from when the home was built. However, newer building codes, EPA-fueled regulations, and advancing technology have made it possible for fireplaces to both work efficiently and be attractive looking. Because of this, over 85% of fireplaces we install in a given year are considered “efficient” and work to add heat to the home, not let all the heat out.
2. Fireplaces are old fashioned & outdated
The fireplace industry is quietly having a boom, driven by Covid-related home projects and the fact that most products sold in the USA are either made here, or in Canada. Because of this, competition among manufacturers is strong and innovations have resulted in some really cutting-edge products and designs. These new designs allow for so many more possibilities, including fuel type, location in the home, and aesthetics. Burning fire in a home for heat is certainly a nod to the past, however, doing so in a more effective and substantial way has changed the dynamic and opened up more possibilities.
3. Fireplaces contribute to air pollution and global warming
It is a fact that burning any type of fuel releases byproducts that with enough quantity and time, can negatively affect our environment. What is also true is that the amount of pollution from gas fireplaces and some wood-burning fireplaces is a very small part of a bigger, more complicated problem. Most new fireplaces sold and installed (gas, electric, or wood) are monitored by the EPA and have minimum efficiency standards. In fact, all new wood-burning inserts and wood stoves must be so efficient that they are technically carbon neutral – which means the smoke they release pollutes the air no more than wood naturally rotting in the woods would emit. The growing push for efficient models and a reduction in fossil fuels will also make newer models more efficient and lead to more and better electric fireplace options.
4. I can’t have a fireplace because I have no chimney
This is probably the most common myth I hear, which hasn’t been true for a very long time. It stems from a time when a fireplace needed to be built out of stone or masonry block, with a clay flue liner to vent out the smoke. All new fireplaces have the ability to vent using its own chimney pipe system, eliminating the need for clay flues in older homes. This makes adding a fireplace to a home or a different location in the home, almost always viable. Often times adding a fireplace is much easier than people imagine and requires much less demo or hard construction work.
5. Nobody burns wood anymore
Gas and electric fireplaces have become a growing part of the industry mix, but wood-burning remains a healthy portion of new sales. The heat that wood-burning fireplaces and stoves can emit, the availability of wood for a large part of the population, and fears over blackouts or electrical outages have all contributed to large amounts of wood products being sold and installed in recent years. Factor in that wood is a renewable resource, most new models are clean burning, and new designs allow for them to fit into a larger number of home styles, mean wood fireplaces are still very popular