Around the Fireplace Blog

How Builders Can Add Value to Their Homes With a Fireplace

By Dwayne R Bennett

Flip through any new home magazine and take a look at the pictures of the family or great rooms. What do you find? In almost all cases you’ll discover a picture of a beautiful fireplace.

Home buyers want a fireplace and factor this into their home buying decisions. Consumers equate home and family with the comfort that a fireplace offers. The fireplace becomes the focal point of any room that it is situated in. It not only offers a visual aesthetic but can also be the primary or secondary source of heat for the home. Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said “The Hearth is the Heart of the Home”. This stands true today. Research completed by the Hearth Patio Barbeque Association indicates that 85% of new home owners want a fireplace in their home. This is backed up by information from the National Association of Home Buyers that the second most desired amenity in a home is a fireplace. This is second only to outdoor spaces. With today’s technology outdoor living can be combined with a fireplace through units that are strictly designed for outdoor living or with units that are available as indoor/outdoor see through models.

Fireplaces will help builders grow their profits. Recent research conducted by Marshall & Swift indicate that the average appraisal value of a home is increased by $3,500 when the home contains a fireplace. Increased appraisal values ranged from $2,900 up to $5,400 and beyond. Ask your local appraisers how they value fireplaces and you’ll be pleased with their answers. Consumers also want to personalize their fireplaces and are willing to pay for upgrade options. Profits of 40% to 50% can be achieved on finishing options and add value to the fireplace package the builder is offering. Regardless of the style of home you are building, there is a fireplace to suit that style. Contemporary linear gas fireplaces offer a sleek modern look at one end of the spectrum while a traditional wood burning fireplace offers the smell and ambiance of an age old home heating practice.

Fireplaces provide the builder with a competitive advantage. The builder needs only to compare a picture of their home containing a fireplace to one of their competitors rooms with a empty, stark wall to reinforce the idea that the focal point of any room can be a fantastic fireplace. Direct vent technology used by almost all manufacturers of gas fireplaces meets all Green building requirements and offers an energy efficient option.

A fireplace is just another way for you, the builder, to add value for your clients and put a little more profit in your pocket.

 

For more information on how a fireplace can add value to your new home construction visit http://www.flameandcomfort.com or stop by Flame & Comfort’s showroom in Winnipeg, Manitoba at 318 Logan Avenue. You can also contact the author at dwayne@flameandcomfort.com

Stages of Wood Burning Combustion

By Dwayne R Bennett

Stage one combustion

The first stage of combustion is the heating and evaporating stage. Initially, heat is brought into contact with a piece of wood in the presence of air. Heat causes several reactions.

First, it raises the temperature of an area on the wood surface to some depth into the wood. As the wood’s surface temperature approaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the water in the wood begins to boil, then evaporates. As long as the water remains in the wood, its boiling and evaporation robbing heat energy from the source, thereby keeping the wood cells from gaining more heat. Moisture must be driven off before combustion can begin, so wood with a high moisture content is hard to ignite.

Unlike moisture, volatile gases are combustible. They burn and release heat. As the wood surface temperature rises beyond 212° F to about 450° F, major gases abundant in creosote are produced: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and acetic and formic acids. However, the gases generated in the first stage of combustion do not ignite until the moisture evaporates and the kindling temperature is hot enough.

Stage two combustion

After moisture is driven from the wood and the heat raises the temperature of the wood above 540° F, the second stage of combustion takes place. This is the heat-producing stage. It occurs at two different temperature levels: primary and secondary combustion.

The process by which gases are released from wood and burned is called primary combustion. Primary combustion begins at about 540° F, continues toward 900° F and results in the release of a large amount of energy. Primary combustion also releases large amounts of unburned combustible gases, including methane and methanol as well as more acid, water vapor and carbon dioxides.

These gases, called secondary gases, contain up to 60 percent of the potential heat in the wood. Their combustion is important to achieve high overall combustion efficiency. The secondary gases are not burned near the wood because of lack of oxygen (oxygen is being consumed by primary combustion) or insufficient temperature.

The conditions needed to burn secondary gases are sufficient oxygen and temperatures of at least 1100° F. The air supply is critical. Too little air will not support combustion and too much will cool the temperature to a point where combustion cannot occur.

Remember that air is about 80 percent inert gas and, when introduced into a wood stove, is well below the 1100° F needed to sustain secondary combustion. The more air that mixes with the secondary gases, the greater the quantity of heat absorbed by the nitrogen, and the lower the temperature of the secondary gas-air mixture.

Secondary combustion can and does occur in wood burning stoves that are designed to meet or exceed the EPA’s requirements for clean air, but only if the stove is used with seasoned wood, operated in a manor consistent with it’s design and is connected to a properly functioning chimney system.

Many people do not realize that the chimney is the engine that drives the stove (or fireplace) and that if the chimney is not up to par (sized correctly, have adequate height, or does not hold enough heat) then the draft will be inadequate and the best stove in the world will be a disappointment at best, and possibly even a danger at worst.

Stage three combustion

During wood burning, after the gases are driven from the wood, the carbon chains of cellulose and lignin molecules remain. Carbon, or charcoal, burns a long time with a low rate of heat output. Charcoal burning is important for two reasons. Additional energy is released, which is important to overall combustion efficiency.

Also, charcoal burns at a low rate of combustion, which means that a good charcoal bed will burn a long time, allowing a fire to last the night. The fire can be rekindled by adding wood and opening the draft to supply new oxygen.

 

For more information on Wood Burning Stoves and Fireplaces in Winnipeg, Manitoba, contact Dwayne Bennett at Flame & Comfort by email at dwayne@flameandcomfort.com or stop by our showroom at 318 Logan Avenue.

The Evolution of the Wood Burning Fireplace

By Dwayne R Bennett

Fireplaces Winnipeg - Showroom

Fireplaces in our Winnipeg Showroom

Wood burning technology has come a long way since the day the caveman first discovering fire. Throughout time wood burning has been used to provide warmth, comfort, safety, and cooking. Today’s consumer is no different however their wood burning appliance options are endless.
The first built-in fireplaces were built from either stone or masonry. They typically included a huge firebox that was capable of holding a large amount of wood and producing a large amount of heat. These fireplaces were used as a primary heat source for the home as well as the primary cooking area. The traditional masonry fireplace was very inefficient and used air from inside the home as it’s combustion air. This resulted in drafty fireplaces that expelled as much heat up the chimney as they provided to heat the home.
In the late 1700′s the fireplace industry was revolutionized by Count Rumford of Bavaria. Born Benjamin Thompson in 1754 in Massachusetts, he left the United States as a British loyalist and began his work as a physicist with the Bavarian government. Count Rumford redesigned the shape and function of the masonry fireplace to retain a greater amount of heat within the home. He redesigned the flue to create a better air draw making the lighting of the fireplace much easier. In addition to this, Count Rumford made the firebox itself smaller and angled the side and back walls in such a way that the heat produced by the fire was radiated back into the home. This allowed for fires to be built with a smaller amount of wood capable of providing more heat to the home. This work earned Benjamin Thompson the title of “Count of the Holy Roman Empire” and made him a legend in the Hearth Industry. The Rumford design is still used today by manufacturers providing a mid-efficient solution for consumers who are looking for a grand fire with moderate efficiency.
The next major breakthrough in wood burning technology came with the invention of the freestanding wood stove. Stoves provided a much simpler installation as well as greater versatility to meet the needs for cooking and warmth. Wood stoves can be put in almost any room of the home and were often used in conjunction with each other. The single wall chimney was piped throughout the home and provided a radiant heat to different rooms all at the same time. Early single wall chimney pipe presented a safety hazard as it often overheated and caused chimney fires. Today, wood stoves are built and installed in accordance to strict safety standards. They often use a double wall black stove pipe from the unit to the first penetration in the building envelope and an insulated chimney from the ceiling or wall penetration to the termination cap. These units are installed by WETT certified installers and are required to meet local and national building codes. WETT (Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc.) is a non-profit certification firm that governs the rules and regulations for wood burning appliances.
Built-In zero clearance fireplaces are now a common alternative to the traditional masonry fireplace. They take on many of the efficiency and safety qualities of a wood stove while providing the traditional look and beauty of a fireplace. These fireplaces are called zero clearance because they can be installed in lumber constructed chimney chases with finishing materials right up to the edge of the fireplace. This gives the consumer an endless number of finishing alternatives and allows them to achieve whatever design ideas they may have for their home.