Choosing the Best Fireplace

A fireplace offers more than warmth; select with care and you’ll get personality too. Sorry to say it can be difficult to make the correct choice.
Not only must you choose between traditional and contemporary; there’s also the option of whether to go for gas, electric or solid fuel.
Fires and stoves come in a selection of various colours and styles. What is more there are choices to be made between surrounds, hearths and accessories.
Factors to Consider
When deciding upon a new fire, the initial consideration will be anchored in appearance. Sleek and contemporary or period style?
After choosing your fireplace style, you need to give thought to your energy-type. For gas or solid fuel, the type of chimney in your home is of prime importance.
Which Chimney?
• Brick chimney
• Prefabricated Flue
• Pre-cast Flue
• No Chimney or Flue
Brick Chimney Features
• Chimney pot visible on roof
• External chimney stack
• Internal chimney breast
Fireplace Choices
• Solid fuel stoves and casts
• Any gas fire
• Any electric fire
Pre-fabricated Flue Features
• External metal flue pipe on roof
• False internal chimney breast
Fireplace Choices
• Multi-flue gas fires
• Selected gas fires (depending on depth of false chimney breast)
• Selected electric fires (depending on depth of false chimney breast)
Pre-cast flue Features
• Raised ridge tile on the roof
• Metal flue pipe on the roof
• No internal or external chimney breast
Fireplace Choices
• Multi-flue gas fires
• Selected gas fires (depending on depth of false chimney breast)
• Any electric fire
If you have no pre-existing chimney or flue you can take your choice of electric fires, or opt for a flueless gas fire (depending on room size).
Carbon Neutral Heating
Given the recent problems in Japan; countless people are giving thought to fuel and the environment. Undeniably the most easy carbon-neutral heating system is a woodburning stove.

Although burning wood gives off Carbon Dioxide (CO2); this is CO2 absorbed during the life of the tree, so no extra CO2 is liberated into the atmosphere. Make sure you burn wood from a sustainable source, and you will generate a closed carbon cycle; the outcome is carbon-neutral.
Climate Neutral Heating
To become carbon-neutral:
• Choose your stove carefully
• Look for a stove that meets rigorous ecological standards
• Inspect the flue regularly
• Burn clean wood only
• Burn dry wood only (less than 20% moisture content)
• Ensure sufficient ventilation.
Can Woodburning Stoves be Dangerous
Woodburning stoves are all-the-rage but, are they perilous?
The current study published in Chemical Research in Toxicology suggests that breathing particulate matter from a wood burning stove is like breathing car exhaust fumes.

Professor Steffen Loft of Copenhagen University comments that the tiny airborne spots of particulate matter found in wood-smoke are “small enough to be inhaled into the deepest part of the lungs,” and “can certainly cause fatal heart or lung disease.” also, Professor Loft claims there are links between wood smoke and other disease processes, for instance asthma, bronchitis, and cancer.
Along the lines of our suggestions above, Professor Loft suggests the following:
• Use dry wood
• Cut wood into small pieces
• Ensure a god flow of air to minimise emissions
A German study into wood-burning stoves published December 2010, reported similar conclusions.
The Death Knell for Wood Burning Stoves?
So is this the finish of woodburning stoves? No. The Solar Fuel Association responded that there is very little chance of vapours being released into a property from a correctly fitted stove.