You have moved into a new house, condominium, or apartment with a fireplace or another type of heating appliance like a stove; however, you have no idea what kind of heating appliance it actually is. You are filled with questions like “Do I burn wood in this fireplace?,” “How do I know if this is a fireplace insert?,” and “Is there a way to identify the manufacturer and serial number?” Burning the wrong type of fuel can be extremely dangerous. Before you start a fire in your new fireplace or stove, it is crucially important to know exactly what type of fireplace or stove you have. At Old Hat Chimney Service, we take our certifications with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) very seriously, and educating our customers is part of our duties as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps. We would like to answer some commonly-asked questions for you to help you properly identify your heating appliance.
Do I have a masonry fireplace or a factory-built fireplace?
According to the CSIA, there are only two types of fireplaces in modern construction: the masonry and the factory-built, also known as a pre-fab or prefabricated. The differences between the two are great and easily identifiable.
The standard of fireplace construction for hundreds of years, masonry fireplaces are made from hand-laid brick or stone during the time of the home’s construction. The chimney system for a masonry fireplace is much more complex. Its components consist of a mortar crown, the flue, ceiling, smoke chamber, smoke shelf, lintel, damper, firebox, ash dump, clean out door, footing, foundation, mantel, and hearth. Unless the fireplace has been converted by piping in a gas line or a gas fireplace insert has been installed, a masonry fireplace is strictly a wood-burning fireplace.
Gaining popularity in newer-built homes, a factory-built fireplace is usually less expensive to construct as the materials and installation costs are lower than the costs to build a masonry fireplace. Easily recognized by the grills near the floor and higher up on the wall or on the sides of the fireplace, the components of a factory-built chimney system include a chimney cap, chase cover, the firestop, metal chimney flue, fireplace, and hearth. Many factory-built fireplaces are equipped with a gas log set and burner and are designed, safety listed, and manufactured for use with gas only. However, some factory-built fireplaces are also designed as wood-burning fireplaces as well. To know for sure, you will have to look for the nameplate that lists the manufacturer, model, and serial number. This nameplate is usually located on the right hand facing of the fireplace just behind the screen. It could also be underneath the firebox if there is a grill at the bottom that flips down.
How do I know if I have a fireplace insert?
Almost exclusively installed in masonry fireplaces, an insert is a simple and cost-efficient way to convert the fuel type from wood-burning to the more convenient gas. You can generally tell you have a fireplace insert if the firebox is metal and surrounded by a steel shell. To know for sure what type of insert you have, look for the nameplate under the grill by the pilot light and gas valve. Sometimes these nameplates can be tucked up on top of the valve, which makes them hard to find.
How can I find the manufacturer information on a stove?
If you have a wood-burning or gas stove, the nameplate will be attached by wire underneath the firebox or attached to the back of the appliance. If you have a pellet stove, it could be located on the hopper lid, inside the hopper, on the back of the stove, or hidden in a removable panel on the appliance.
Have more fireplace and stove identification questions? Contact Old Hat Chimney Service to ask our certified staff to help you identify your heating appliance.