Company Blog

You Have an Insert!

Do you really, now?You Have an Insert! IMG- Spartanburg SC- Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps

According to Merriam-Webster:
Definition of insert (when used as a noun)
“something that is or is meant to be inserted (put or introduced into the body of something else)”
Strictly speaking it could be ANYTHING that is put inside something else.

However, when used in reference to chimneys and fireplaces, the term generally refers to one of two or three things (depending on who’s doing the talking). It could be…

  • A prefabricated manufactured fireplace system that is “inserted” into a house structure
    • generally referred to as a “prefab fireplace”. Sometimes it will be described as a “zero-clearance” fireplace system, although strictly speaking , this is not always the case.
  • An appliance that is “inserted” into a masonry fireplace structure
    • fueled by gas or wood and can have a dedicated venting system or (as is often the case with wood stove “inserts”), simply slammed up inside a receptacle fireplace
    • simple gas log systems (vented or vent free) incorrectly referred to as “inserts”
  • A stainless steel liner system that is “inserted” into a masonry chimney structure
    • if done according to most manufacturer’s instructions, will be insulated and properly sized for whatever appliance it is venting

In the Hearth Industry (the world of chimneys and fireplaces), when we hear the term “insert” we generally see (in our mind’s eye) some version of B as described above. If we are not sure that the person we are talking with has the same definition, we will generally ask for a little more information about their particular “insert”. The ensuing conversation will likely give us clues as to the kind of “insert” we are discussing.

So…why is it important to know what kind of an “insert” you may have?

Well, different kinds of “inserts” require different kinds of regular service.

  • A prefab fireplace, will require annual inspection and cleaning as necessary as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. Why annual inspections?
    • It could be dirty from use.
    • It could be rusted from water entry.
    • It could be damaged by chimney fire.
    • It could be that parts may have become disconnected.
    • If it’s never been inspected, it may have been installed improperly.
  • An appliance system will need regular inspections.
    • Wood appliances create creosote as a naturally occurring by-product of combustion. The efficiency of the appliance as well as the way it is operated will determine the amount of creosote that builds up. Regular inspections will help to monitor the build-up and assure timely sweepings to avoid chimney fires (unfriendly potentially damaging occurrences).
    • While the vents on properly functioning gas appliances don’t often need sweeping, gas appliances need regular maintenance to keep dust and animal dander out of the mechanical parts.
    • If there is a masonry structure as part of your “insert” system, the exterior will likely need maintenance, repair or both. Bricks and mortar don’t last indefinitely without care and protection from water intrusion.
  • Stainless steel liners associated with wood burning appliances need regular inspection and service. (See section Ba above.) Manufacturers often require this to maintain warranties.

So, at the end of it all, be assured that we, here at Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth, will be more than happy to help you figure out what kind of “insert” you have and share what we have learned about any recommended service and/or maintenance for your particular system. We look forward to hearing from you when we can help you.

Got Gas?!

Got Gas?!Got Gas! - Laurens SC - Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps

You have a “gas fireplace”……..but do you really?

What’s the difference between

  • A gas starter (log-lighter),
  • Gas logs,
  • A gas fireplace insert,
  • And a true gas fireplace?  

And why do you need to know?

Gas starter (log-lighter)

Log Lighters are designed to burn gas in order to start a real wood fire without using kindling.  They are not designed to emulate the look of a real wood fire and should not be used with artificial logs.  You can find log lighters in both masonry and prefabricated manufactured fireplaces.  If one has been installed in a prefab fireplace it is not recommended to remove it as it will be difficult to find a service technician willing to seal the hole left by its removal.  We have never found a manufacture who will sign off (in writing) on an approved repair procedure once a hole, to facilitate a gas line, has been punched in a prefab fireplace.

Gas LogsGot Gas! - Laurens South Carolina - Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps

Technically it’s a gas burner in a fireplace (either masonry or manufactured), made to resemble real logs.  These can have either manual or electronic ignition systems.  You can find gas log systems in either masonry or prefabricated manufactured fireplaces.  If gas logs have been installed in a prefab fireplace it is not recommended to try to return the appliance to wood burning as it will be difficult to find a service technician willing to seal the hole left by the removal of the gas logs.  Again, we have never found a manufacture who will sign off (in writing) on an approved repair procedure once a hole, to facilitate a gas line, has been punched in a prefab fireplace.  These units can be vented or vent free and some units can be operated either way (dual-listed)

Gas fireplace insert

This appliance is a gas stove that is installed (inserted) into an open fireplace that was originally designed to burn wood.  It is most often installed in a masonry structure, but sometimes can be found installed into a manufactured chimney.  If installed in a manufactured chimney, approval from the manufacturer of the fireplace must be obtained.  These units can be either vented or vent free.

(Dedicated) Gas fireplace

This is a manufactured appliance similar to a prefab wood burning fireplace in that it is a complete system (firebox and chimney) with pieces and parts that are specifically designed to go together in a specific way.  The fuel is gas instead of wood and replacement parts are manufacturer specific.  No mixing and matching is allowed.  These units can be direct vent, b-vent or vent free.

Why is it important to know what you have?

Knowing what you have will

  • let you know what your options are if you plan some kind of change (i.e. gas to wood; new gas logs; different gas fireplace).
  • let you know how to find out what kind of service you need and how often that service should be done.
  • let you know what to tell folks about what is there if you decide to sell your home.

More homeowner information about the use of gas appliances in your home is available from Chimney Safety Institute of America.  

Blue Sky Chimneys Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth has technicians trained to service any of these installations.  We can help you identify just what you have and keep it in ship shape condition providing hours and hours of enjoyment for you and your family.