The questions that arise as you plan for your new fireplace will be many. Here we will answer frequent questions we are asked. You may also want to refer to our Helpful Links page.

Vermont Castings PeninsulaWhat size stove or fireplace should I get for my home?
This is a good question. Too small, and youíll not be warm enough. Too big, and youíll have to keep your fires burning low (smoldering) which increases harmful emissions and lowers efficiency. Manufacturers include with their product information the square footage each unit should heat. However, there are many factors to consider. These include the climate you live in, how old your house is and the condition of its windows and insulation. Youíll also want to think about the layout of your home. If itís fairly open with good circulation and youíd like to heat your whole house, youíll want something bigger than if youíre just looking to heat one or two rooms. Come in to our showroom and we can help you sort all this out.

I have an old masonry fireplace, but would like to burn gas instead of wood. Can I convert it?
Yes, and please do! By adding a gas (or wood or pellet) fireplace insert, your open chimney will stop drawing the warmth out of your home. Fireplace inserts are designed to fit into existing wood burning fireplaces and can be made to blend with the masonry.

What are my options for making my masonry fireplace more efficient as a wood burner?
Installing an EPA certified fireplace insert with a stainless steel chimney liner running to the top of the fireplace chimney is your only good option. Adding glass doors makes almost no difference, and other accessories for boosting heat aren't much better. A fireplace insert changes a decorative fireplace into an efficient heat source without sacrificing the appearance.

How can "zone heating" with a stove or fireplace save on my heating bill?
Your stove or fireplace, whether burning wood, pellets or gas, can warm your most-used rooms to a comfortable temperature while not wasting energy on rooms that do not need to be as warm. For example, you can be toasty warm in your living room running a stove at 30,000 BTU, leaving your 100,000 BTU furnace off.

What kind of venting do pellet stoves need?
Pellet stoves and inserts are easier to vent than those of any other fuel. They can be either direct vented straight out the wall behind them, or fitted into the venting of a traditional chimney. Pellet vent pipe (or flexible liner for chimneys) is only 3 or 4 inches in diameter.

Is it true that burning with wood contributes to pollution and releases toxins into the air of my home?
Yes, this is true if you're burning wood inefficiently. Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemical compounds, many of which have adverse health effects. This is why all older and homemade units should be replaced, and masonry fireplaces fitted with an insert that is EPA certified. Units certified by the Environmental Protection Agency actually burn these toxic gases while generating more heat. Another benefit of this combustion: It helps prevent a build-up of flammable chimney deposits called creosote.

Whatís the difference between wood stoves made of cast iron and of steel?
Cast iron holds heat better than steel and is sealed at its joints with bolts and caulk. Steel stoves compensate for this by having welded joints and heat-retaining firebrick inside.

How much will I save if I heat with wood or wood pellets instead of gas?
There are so many variables in answering this question that formulas have been developed, comparing the BTU (the standard measure of heat called British Thermal Units) given off by a variety of fuels. Homeowners can use these formulas to calculate what their savings would be. For firewood comparisons, we recommend either of the following: NASD's article, "Home Heating With WoodĒ (see our "Helpful Links" page) or Woodheat.orgís version in Chapter 14 of their online book: "A Guide To Residential Wood Heating." Of particular interest, according to the Smithers method for estimating the amount of wood needed to heat a house, one cord of average dry hardwood is equivalent to 150 gallons No. 2 fuel oil, 230 gallons LP gas, 21,000 cubic feet natural gas or 6,158 kwh electricity. (A standard cord is a well stacked pile of wood that is 4'x4'x8'.)

For pellet burning comparisons, you can visit the Pellet Fuels Institute site (see our Helpful Links page) and click on ďCompare Fuel Costs.Ē

Whatís the difference between catalytic and non-catalytic wood stoves?
Starting in 1985, all EPA rated wood stoves were required to have a secondary burn system to make them more efficient. In the earlier years this was most commonly done with a catalyst. Catalytic combustors come in various sizes and shapes. They start working when you flip the bypass door handle on the unit. The gases and smoke (that would normally go up the flue and contribute to creosote in your chimney and air pollution) are burned by the catalyst. This creates additional heat, making the unit more efficient as well as clean-burning.

These days the more popular way to achieve a secondary burn is to use a non-catalytic system, which usually has a stainless steel tube covered with little holes. These holes mix air with the gas and smoke, producing the desired secondary burn. This system lasts many years, and may never need replacing (unlike a catalytic combustor).

Why not order my fireplace or stove online where itís cheaper?
Shipping: Donít forget to factor in shipping costs. (Fireplaces and stoves are not light!) Think also about how youíre going to unload the unit from the semi truck when It arrives. If you donít have a Bobcat or lift, youíll have quite a challenge ahead of you.

Warranty: If warranty issues arise, itís likely no one from California or Texas will be dispatched to examine and resolve the issue. You may spend hours on the phone.

Parts: When you need a part, thereís the question of whether you can get it, if youíll get the right one, and if the wrong part can be replaced. Not having a dealer to look at your problem and figure out just what you need is big.

Shopping: Itís hard to make the best choice just by looking at pictures. Color and size always look different. Then there are the many variables that affect your heating unit choice, for which an experienced dealer can be a tremendous help.

All factors considered, you'll probably find it's not cheaper to order online. At Jimís Country Fireplace, we honor all warranties of our units, can order you any part you need, and will help you choose the right unit for your home.

Jim's Country Fireplace - 3106 Oak Street, Cottage Grove, WI - 608.873.3568