January…blustery cold…you plop on the couch after a tough week at work...gazing through the window of
your log home you can see kids ice skating on the frozen lake. Totally
relaxed now, you turn to the fireplace to add another log on the fire.
For many, a similar
Norman Rockwell like image is etched in their minds when they think of their
dream log home. The fireplace is often a center piece of any design and adds comfort and value to your investment.
But today you have many choices, here are some basics to help you get started.
There's a wide
selection of size, style, quality, price, efficiency, performance, etc. for a fireplace
or stove from numerous manufactures. To help you narrow your search, start by asking yourself these questions to help you determine what’s best for you.
How often do you plan to use the
fireplace or stove? As a heat
source (alternative/primary) or just have an occasional fire for ambience?
What type of fuel do you plan to burn,
hardwood, pellets, corn, coal or gas?
What are the availability, access and cost of your fuel of choice?
Is efficiency or environmental concerns
important to you?
What level of priority is a fireplace or
stove on your “wish list” and how much can you allocate to this item in
masonry fireplace or firebox which is typically made of brick/stone and mortar and
requires substantial structural support to carry the weight. If this is your choice you’ll need to plan
ahead and design in footing and foundation support at the preliminary design
stage. A traditional fireplace is very
inefficient, around 10%. You’ll also
have an option to install a fireplace insert to improve efficiency.
The most popular
option today is to install an engineered (also known as pre-fabricated or
zero-clearance) fireplace unit with a double wall stainless steel chimney pipe
inside a framed wall with culture stone veneer.
This option, you get the look of real stone, but with the choice for
higher efficiency than a traditional fireplace.
Many manufactures offer outside air intakes and fan blowers to push
heated air into the room. There are
typically three grades of fireplaces in this class, builder grade, heater
grade, furnace grade. The later can be
EPA certified, offer insulated fireboxes, heat exchangers, upgraded doors for
improve efficiency and offer higher quality of construction.
(a.k.a.: Russian Stove, Finnish Fireplace, Soapstone Fireplace) are common in
Europe and are a becoming a popular option in the USA (this will
also require planning at the preliminary plan stage for structural support in
the foundation). They are designed to
burn a hot fire where the exhaust flows through a series of baffles which
allows the masonry thermo mass to slowly absorb the heat energy and release it
back into the space. These units are
very clean burning, emit little smoke and very efficient up to 90%. Masonry heaters can be custom built or you
can purchase manufactured units of all sizes.
If you want to heat efficiently with wood and have the budget, this maybe
a choice for you.
expensive than a fireplace this is a cost effective way to add heat to your home as a primary or
secondary heat source.
There is a wide selection of stoves on the market that burn a variety of
fuel such as wood, corn, coal, gas, wood pellets, cherry pits and more. Typically the stove is placed on tile or
stone over a fire retardant underlayment.
Some pellet or gas stoves are near zero clearance and can be placed close
to a wall with direct horizontal venting through the wall. Efficiency varies by stove, but expect up to
No matter what system you
choose, we recommend you consult with a fireplace professional to
explain more about the products, performance and costs so you can determine
which fireplace or stove that’s right for you.
Your builder can often supply you with names of local
fireplace stores that can assist you. We always
recommend that you have your fireplace, stove, masonry heater built or installed
by a professional.
TIP: If you plan to burn daily as a primary heat
source, you’ll want to review with your builder of record and/or HVAC
contractor about maintaining the correct relative humidity level in your log
The Leelanau Log Home Company is an independent log home dealer, builder and general contractor located in Northern Michigan. We're authorized dealer for Strongwood Log Homes and Woodhaven Log & Lumber offering milled log, timber frame, Swedish Cope, handcrafted, log sided and hybrid home building systems.
The Leelanau Log Home Company LLC Brad Karikomi & Jim Coyle Model home address: 1310 S. Lakeshore Drive, Lake Leelanau, Michigan 49653 Business mailing address: PO Box 309, Interlochen, Michigan 49643 Brad: 231-668-1465 Jim: 231-668-1871 Email Us