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April 18, 2018

If you ask homeowners whether they prefer gas or wood burning fireplaces you will have various different answers. So, if you’re considering buying a new home or installing a fireplace how do you know which system is right for you?

What System Is Right For You

living room with fireplace

Open System

Open systems are your standard wood or gas burning fireplaces. This usually means there’s an opening in the wall with a flue above it so you can appreciate the crackling of the flames. Screens and glass doors over the fireplace help to protect your home from unwanted sparks and debris. These are known as open systems because they fire is directly open to the room.

wood burning insert

Insert System

Insert Systems are a wood or gas heating unit. In a word, it’s a stove that is inserted into your fireplace. They are environmentally friendly, highly efficient and produce much more heat than a traditional fireplace. While some people find them to be less personal, their elegant modern or traditional design can turn them into a beautiful centerpiece for any living space. They are also safer and easier to manager for families with small children as they can prevent accidents with wood and burning embers. Gas insert systems tend to be 72%-85% thermally efficient. That means the energy given off keeps the house well heated.


Now that you know more about open and insert systems, let’s talk about fuel type.

Fuel Type

Deciding upon gas or wood can be difficult. It is important to consider your surroundings because each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Wood burning fireplaces are timeless. People choose wood fuel for its authentic quality and as a more environmental alternative to burning fossil fuels. However, depending on your location, it may be difficult to obtain wood. In this case, a gas burning fireplace may fit your needs more. If you live in the suburbs or country it can be easy to purchase or chop and store your own wood.

Gas burning fireplaces are simple and effortless. With just the flip of a switch you can turn your fire on and off at your convenience. Gas burning fireplaces are becoming quite popular because they look and feel like a traditional fireplace and require less maintenance but if you like the experience of building your own fire, then you’re better off burning wood.

Now let’s talk about the upkeep of your fireplace.

Maintenance & Safety

Maintaining your fireplace is essential for enjoyment and safety. Failing to regularly inspect and clean the creosote that builds up in a wood burning system is the primary reason for chimney fires.

Insert systems need to be cleaned, depending on use, once every year or two. Modern wood burning inserts are highly specialized designs that are extremely efficient and result in much lower particulate emissions. While this means less soot overall, inserts are work horses designed for use as zone heating systems, and can be burned non-stop all winter as long as they are cleaned regularly.

Gas fireplaces offer no mess from gathering or cutting logs. They rarely need cleaning, and typically require just a simple checkup inspection each year. . Since the logs being used are artificial, you will not have to worry about sweeping up leftover ash. They radiate heat nicely but do need to be tuned up every year or two depending on how often you use them. Keep in mind if not serviced properly this can lead to water damage and carbon monoxide leaks.

Please note that inserts and open systems are both extremely safe when used and maintained properly.


If you are installing a brand new fireplace. Prices will vary depending on which the style you choose and choice of aesthetic.

As with all fuel types, price can vary considerably depending on your location and market conditions. Wood tends to be more expensive in urban environments where delivery is the primary expense, whereas more rural areas often have free firewood available for those who know where to look. If you are considering using your stove as a main source of heat throughout the winter this can be much cheaper than burning gas or fuel.

Gas fireplaces burn either natural or propane gas. If you are converting your heating system to gas you will have to pay a fee but once the expenses are out of the way, natural gas is comparable to purchasing wood. The comparison then comes down to how often you use your fireplace, and if you are installing or converting your fireplace.

Give us a call so we can figure out what works best for you, (703) 836-7858.

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