How to Choose a Wood Burning Fireplace Insert How to Choose a Wood Burning Fireplace Insert

A wood burning fireplace insert is a device that was inserted into a wood burning fireplace to make it more energy-efficient. In essence, it keeps the fire behind a set of doors, trapping the heat inside. Fresh air enters through the vents and escapes out the chimney.  Before choosing a fireplace insert, homeowners should consider its size, compatibility, compliance with EPA standards, energy efficiency and aesthetics.


To ensure that that a fireplace insert works to it’s maximum capability, it must have the same size as the fireplace’s opening. Before choosing an insert, homeowners must measure the opening’s width and height, as well as rear width and depth. If a fireplace has a hearth, homeowners should also measure it’s width and depth. That way, the external parts of insert would not to be too low – or too high – for the fireplace.

Compliance with EPA Standards

When the logs are burned, wood burning fireplaces create waste and pollution. The byproduct of the burning either accumulates inside the chimney as creosote or escapes into the air as carbon dioxide and other harmful gases. That is why it is important to buy a fireplace insert that has been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. An EPA-certified inserts burns wood more efficiently, reducing the amount of smoke that is created in the process.


In order to work properly, a fireplace insert needs access to a working chimney. As part of the installation process, the existing chimney is usually has a liner on the inside. Otherwise, creosote builds up, mitigating some of the insert’s benefits. Both the liner and the unit should follow the building’s fire codes, so it is important to check to see if the insert abides by them before selecting it. Due to the complexities of the code, homeowner may be better off hiring a processional to handle the installation process. 


Fireplace inserts come in a wide variety of styles and features. Some of the more popular features include self-cleaning doors, fans and blowers that distribute heat throughout a home, a thermostat and remote controls to control the intensity of the fire. The style range from plain and functional to elaborate and highly decorative. They come in a variety of colors and materials. Ideally, the fireplace inserts should match the decorative scheme of the room it’s in, the design of the fireplace where it’s inserted and the existing fireplace decorations. Another important factor is visibility. Some fireplace inserts feature transparent doors that allow homeowners to see the fire, while others fall into varying degrees of opacity, creating different types of lighting and ambiance.  

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