Oakville Real Estate News

Zero-Clearance Fireplaces

Blog by Joette Fielding | March 19th, 2013

Zero Clearance Wood Burning Fireplace

Zero Clearance FireplaceOur clients often ask us about adding a wood burning fireplace to an existing home. Because it involves foundation construction and a masonry chimney, adding a fireplace can be expensive. zero-clearance wood burning fireplace, can be installed in almost any location in any home, and if existing floor structures and a prefabricated chimney are used, much of that cost can be minimized.


refers to a prefabricated fireplace that can be installed almost directly against combustible surfaces, such as walls or floors. A prefabricated chimney is then run up the inside or outside of the house. The following questions should be taken into consideration before purchasing a zero-clearance fireplace:

1. Where would you like to put it?

2. Is the purpose ambiance only or do you want to generate some heat for the house? Most wood burning fireplaces do not actually heat the house. In fact, many cause overall heat loss because they heat the room they are in, but send the hot air from the rest of the house racing up the chimney.

Get a Good Installer

This is not a do-it-yourself project. Enlist the help of an expert from the beginning; ideally, someone trained in installing the type of system you select. The specific expertise is important because all the components must be manufacturer approved. Also, despite what the name suggests, zero-clearance fireplaces must still observe minimum clearances for safety reasons. And once installed, it is difficult to inspect the installation details – another great reason to have an expert do the job.

Glass Doors

Most zero-clearance fireplaces feature glass doors. With some models, the glass doors may be closed while the fire is lit while others require the glass doors to open. For example, high efficiency units are designed to operate when the glass doors are closed. Many conventional zero-clearance units have glass doors to reduce heat loss when there is no fire, but the doors should be left open when the fire is lit.

Inspection Requirements

Because zero-clearance fireplaces leave less room for error due to the proximity of combustible material, they require yearly inspection.

Many zero-clearance fireplaces are installed with a prefabricated chimney pipe enclosed in a chimney chase (enclosure running up the outside of the house). If animals get through the chimney chase, they can build nests in direct contact with the pipe. Under the right conditions, a fire could start in the chimney chase. Creosote is a combustible deposit that builds up on the inside of a chimney flue. It must be cleaned out regularly to avoid a chimney fire. A good inspection is your best defense against chimney or house fires. The chimney and fireplace inspection industry is unlicensed and unregulated in most states and provinces. Fortunately, excellent organizations of professionals do exist. In the United States, the National Chimney Sweep Guild created a certification organization called the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Look for an inspector who is CSIA certified. In Canada, look for an inspector certified by Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. (WETT).

Content Courtesy Of Pillar To Post Inspectors

For all your real estate needs, call The Fielding Team at 905-338-9000 or visit our website at: http://www.thefieldingteam.com/

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