“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.” While those are lyrics from the classic holiday tune, “Let It Snow,” it rings true all winter long. During these cooler months, Virginia can get pretty damp and dreary, and one of the coziest ways to stay warm is to curl up by a fire.
But which is better — a gas or a wood fireplace?
As is the case with most things in your home, there is no one-size-fits-all answer here. The best thing you can do is review your options and make a choice based on your needs and preferences. Take your time with this decision, though, because changing from one type of fireplace to another is no easy feat. To help you decide, let’s go over some of the features you’ll need to look for in a fireplace.
What “Fireplace Experience” Do You Want?
If you’re thinking about adding or upgrading a fireplace to your home, there’s a good chance that you already have an idea in your mind of what you want. In all honesty, this is one of the most important factors. If you’re dreaming of crackling logs and the smoky scent of a fire, you may be disappointed with a gas unit.
When you’re trying to choose what kind of fireplace you want, take a few moments to imagine what it would be like if each option was already in your home. If you’re mental image of one falls flat, you’ll have your answer!
Which Type of Fireplace is Safest?
Who lives in your home? That’s one question you need to answer before you add a fireplace. If you’ve got curious pets and small children, you’ll need to think about safety. While any heat source (including a hot oven or radiator, for example) can be potentially hazardous, fireplaces create unique challenges.
With a wood fireplace, you’ll be in direct contact with flames, embers, and smoke. You’ll also have to handle ash disposal and creosote buildup to reduce the risk of a house fire. Meanwhile, a gas fireplace is a combustion appliance that will keep the fire contained, but may increase your risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Yearly inspections and maintenance can help prevent this, though.
How Easy is it to Use?
You might think it’s worth it, but you’ve got to admit that a wood-burning fireplace takes more work. You’ll need to learn how to start and maintain a fire, including gathering kindling and arranging the logs properly. Be sure to stock up on wood too because as soon as you run out, you won’t be able to use your fireplace.
Gas fireplaces are much easier to use — all you’ll need to do is flip a light switch and it’s on. There’s no need to keep track of firewood, clean up ashes, or remember to stock the logs. Then, when you’re down, turn the switch off and move on with your day.
Which Is More Cost Effective — Gas or Wood Fireplaces?
The biggest expense associated with a wood fireplace is firewood. You can find decent deals sometimes, but each log will cost money unless you happen to live in a forested area where you can cut down or obtain wood for free. Having your chimney cleaned can add an extra expense, and if you’re not diligent about keeping your damper closed (when it’s not in use), you could lose heated air from your home, resulting in rising energy bills.
If your home is already connect to gas lines, using a gas fireplace won’t cost as much. In addition to yearly inspections and servicing, a professional can show you how to use your gas fireplace efficiently. Also, some models come with a built-in thermostat which will automatically turn the fire on and off in order to maintain a specific room temperature.
We’ve discussed fire safety regularly on our blog as well as the potential perils of a dirty chimney. There are pros and cons associated with both types of fireplaces, but if you go the wood-burning route, keeping it clean will take some effort. Not only will you have to dispose of burned logs, soot, and ash, but you’ll also need to schedule annual chimney cleaning to remove potentially dangerous buildup.
You won’t have any mess to clean up with a gas fireplace, but it’s a good idea to have it looked at when you schedule your yearly furnace maintenance. While less common, gas leaks and carbon monoxide exposure do happen, but that annual inspection can help prevent problems.
Of course, the NATE-certified technicians at W.G. Speeks are always available to provide guidance and excellent customer service. We offer a free consultation with our team of professionals to keep your home safe and comfortable all year long.