Decide the fireplace location, the desired functions and design, and of course, your budget. From there, a fireplace retailer or TSSA-registered contractor can assist you in finding the right fireplace for your needs.
There are three different types of fireplaces: insert, zero-clearance, and free-standing.
- INSERT – A natural gas fireplace insert is designed to be installed in an existing fireplace opening, which creates an economical, cleaner burning and more efficient heat source. Inserts have a metal housing with a glass front and realistic looking ceramic logs. The masonry chimney is used as a passage for the new chimney liner and vent. Inserts are most often gravity vented, but some direct-vent inserts are available.
- FREE-STANDING – These self contained units come in a variety of styles, including hearth or wall-mounted units and fireplace stoves. Free-standing fireplaces can be vented through an existing chimney, B-vent metal chimney or direct vented horizontally through the wall or vertically through the roof.
- ZERO-CLEARANCE – These fireplaces are self contained metal housings with realistic-looking logs. They are built-in with 'zero-clearance to combustibles', meaning no space is needed between the unit and the combustible materials such as wood or wallboards. These units are for installation where there is no masonry fireplace. They are often direct vented through the wall or roof, rather than through an expensive masonry chimney.
A chimney is not required, but an appropriate form of venting is. Natural gas fireplaces can be direct vented through the wall or roof. If an existing masonry chimney exists and will be used, then it will need to be lined with a stainless steel liner to meet venting requirements. Your TSSA-registered contractor or retailer can assist.
These terms refer to how a gas appliance takes in the air it needs to burn gas.
- Direct vent models refer to how a fireplace draws combustion air from the outdoors and returns the combustion exhaust back to the outside of the house eliminating the need for a standard chimney system. A glass panel in direct vent models is critical for keeping the combustion system sealed from the home, maintaining high efficiency and indoor air quality.
- B-Vent modeled fireplace draws the combustion air from inside the home and vents combustion exhaust to the outdoors.
BTU's (British Thermal Units) are a standard of measurement that represent the heat value of any type of energy used to create heat. The amount of fuel that a fireplace will consume per hour is calculated with the BTU value of the fuel it uses to determine the input of that fireplace. BTU values of any type of energy are determined by the actual amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one pound of water, by one degree Fahrenheit.
Fireplace Efficiency (FE) measures the energy efficiency of vented glass fireplaces. The higher the percentage, the more energy-efficient the model. Look for a fireplace with an EnerGuide rating of 50 to 70 per cent.
There are two options to control the heat:
- An adjustable heat setting. Where available, this feature can be found as a dial, directly on the fireplace. The dial allows you to turn the flame up or down, adjusting the temperature.
- A thermostat. Similar to the way a furnace functions, it keeps the space around the fireplace at the temperature you choose. The fireplace will turn on and off as required to maintain the desired room warmth.
All natural gas fireplaces sold in Canada are certified to an approved CSA safety standard that includes requirements for safely shutting-down if loss of flame occurs. Starting in January 2015, all fireplaces will have a mandatory safety screen to reduce the risk of burns.