Many homes include fireplaces, but not all were installed for the same purpose. Many people may assume that a fireplace is a fireplace, but that is not so. Years ago, fireplaces were installed for the purpose of heating the home. They were in the bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, and most all of the “gathering” areas of the home. They were constructed with the intention to withstand hot, winter-long fires. Today, although some fireplaces are built with the same intentions of old, most are not. Now they are primarily for “visual effect” or “ambiance” with their intention being for short-term, low-heat fires.
There are many types of fireplaces; electric, gas, wood, and other alternate fuel sources. When a fireplace is used within its constructed intent, things should be fine. It’s when they are called to serve an unintended purpose that things can go wrong.
For instance, a fireplace that was built for gas that has been modified by the DIY’er to use real wood is a problem waiting to happen. The heat created by wood will far exceed the temperature that the firebox and flue were made for. Also, gas fireplaces typically are not constructed with the same “drawing” aspect that is needed to properly evacuate the smoke, thus resulting in a smoked-filled room.
So, before you attempt a do-it-yourself conversion of your own fireplace or use it for anything other than the manufacturer’s written intentions, beware! You may end up with a larger, hotter fire than you were looking for.
What do you use your fireplace for? Will it withstand the test?