Do you really, now?
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.