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Fireplaces and Hearths

Fireplaces are consistently rated as one of the top amenities desired by home owners. In fact, fireplaces have one of the highest investment returns of any addition to your home. However, a fireplace can be just a black hole in the wall until the homeowner decides to framed it with decorative elements. A beautiful mantel makes the fireplace a focal point and sets the style for a room. Our fireplace section takes you throught the do's and dont's of putting in and maintaining a fireplace. From installation to decoration our experts give you advice on how to make your fireplace a warm and inviting place to snuggle on those cold.
winter nights.

Tips on How to Procure Low or No Cost Building Materials
A case in point was a left over sewer pipe section several blocks from our home in a new subdivision. That pipe became the central element in a combination fire pit and barbecue. I buried the 5’ long by 4’ diameter section in our backyard near an existing raised planter bed. I left the top sticking out just enough to brick the exterior with discarded Roman bricks I found in another nearby housing development. I filled the pipe to within 2’ of the top with crushed rock. Next I poured a 3” concrete floor with an oversized wine bottle in the center. Once the concrete hardened I broke the wine bottle, leaving an opening of about 6” in diameter in the floor. I then bought a length of 1/2” stainless steel square bar and had a local welding shop weld it into a circular grill to fit inside the lip of the concrete pipe. Extending the planter box to partially surround the new fire pit and putting a 2”x8” cap on top formed the seating area. I adjusted my impulse sprinkler to sweep over the pit which washed all but big clinkers down into the crushed rock inside the pipe.

Having doubts about finding a left over sewer pipe around your area? Maybe so, but have you thought about making contacts with your town’s administration? I have found our public works director happy to give me surplus materials.

I just had a truck load of broken up sidewalk dropped off at our neighbors unused lot. I in turn used this material to make a 20’x26’x 22” retaining wall for a garden pond. I have gotten enough bricks from local demolition projects to build two patios and over 200’ of walkways through our property. Another good source is local contractors. I built a 20’ x 10’ x 8’ arbor from beams left over from an upscale residential development. But my best finds have come from poking around new residential developments. The large decorative rocks that will form the waterfall for my pond I found in a discarded pile in a new development just 5 miles from our property. That was a real find, as here in Florida you have to buy rock from dealers at around $240 per ton.

Advantages of Gas Fireplace Inserts
Gas fireplace inserts are used to convert existing wood burning fireplaces (both pre-fab and masonry) to a sealed gas appliance. They consist of a gas log set installed into a steel or cast-iron heat exchanger and are usually sealed on the front with glass.

Many of these units have fans to move the heat, and are also available with remote controls, wall switches or wall-mounted thermostats. Converting your existing masonry or factory-built fireplace to gas is an extremely worthwhile investment.

Direct vent: This insert applies a sealed combustion direct vent system to heat the home efficiently and maintain indoor air quality. It's designed to address negative air pressure problems in "tightly-sealed" homes. Combustion air is acquired from outside the home through a dual (co-linear) venting system, eliminating the heat loss associated with conventional chimneys. Uses existing masonry or factory built metal chimney as a housing for a flexible co-linear liner.

Natural vent: Uses existing masonry or factory built metal chimney as a housing for a flexible liner. Uses room air for combustion and exhausts to the outside of the home via a flexible liner installed in the chimney.

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