Heat and warmth. These two things are usually foremost on the minds of Canadians during the often harsh winter months. If you are currently building a new house, don't forget to include at least one fireplace, which can help keep your home cozy and warm while lowering your heating bills. In addition, fireplaces can also play a very important role in keeping your home warm in the event of a power outage. But before you go ahead with plans that just call for a generic fireplace, you should take the time to do a little research and add a fireplace that can bring beauty as well as warmth to your home.
Types of Fireplaces
There are several different types of fireplaces that you can choose from when building your home. There are fireplaces that burn wood, propane, natural gas, wood pellets or that run on electricity. Before choosing one of these, you should take into careful consideration the following:
- Ease of use. Some people prefer gas and electric fireplaces as many can be started simply by pushing a button or rotating a knob. There is no wood to haul in or kindling to start.
- Beauty and ambiance. While designers have worked hard to create gas and electric fireplaces that look real, there is no possible way for them to totally capture the beauty and feel of a real, romantic wood fire. In addition, some people just prefer snuggling near a fireplace where they can hear the sounds of the crackling fire and feel the intense warmth generated by the burning wood. To them, sitting around an electric or gas fireplace is about as romantic as sitting next to a heater.
- Clean-up time. If you choose an electric or gas fireplace, you won't have to clean out ashes after each fire, which is a very important safety step for wood-burning fireplaces. And you also won't have to clean your chimney. For wood-burning fireplaces, regular chimney cleanings are very important because otherwise creosote can build up in your chimney, which could lead to a fire.
- Laws. In some areas of Canada, restrictions have been put on the type of fireplace you can add to your home. For example, the city of Montreal recently ordered that all wood-burning fireplaces be replaced by December 31, 2020. The city believes that wood-burning fireplaces and stoves have had a negative effect on its air quality and that they were partly responsible for the 41 bad-air days that Montreal experienced in 2012.
- Emergency use. In the event of a long-term power outage, a fireplace that burns wood will definitely have its advantages over an electric fireplace. As for gas or propane fireplace, as long as they have a standing pilot light, you should be able to use them in the event of a power outage. However, you should be aware that the fireplace's fan will not work.
Once you've made a decision as to the type of fireplace you want to install, it's time to think about design. Be creative and try to think beyond the traditional rectangular hole in the wall. Designers today can install both wood- and fuel-burning units that can add both beauty and that "Awww" factor to your new home. For example, you might want to consider:
- A double-sided gas- or electric-fireplace that sits in the middle of a room.
- Asking a designer to create a unique wood-burning fireplace for your home. The trend today is for more modern-looking fireplaces with larger viewing areas. In addition, newer models use an air wash system that will help keep their gas fronts clean, which also makes it easier for everyone to view the fire.
In the end, unless there is a legal reason, the type of fireplace you decide to install will usually come down to your family's personal preferences. Do they prefer the real deal or an easier-to-use modern fire? There really is no right or wrong answer.