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 you’ll not be warm enough. Too big, and you’ll 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. You’ll also want to think about the layout of your home. If it’s fairly open with good circulation and you’d like to heat your whole house, you’ll want something bigger than if you’re 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 wood insert with a stainless 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.

What’s 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.

What’s 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 it’s cheaper?
Shipping: Don’t forget to factor in shipping costs. (Fireplaces and stoves are not light!) Think also about how you’re going to unload the unit from the semi truck when It arrives. If you don’t have a Bobcat or lift, you’ll have quite a challenge ahead of you.

Warranty: If warranty issues arise, it’s 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, there’s the question of whether you can get it, if you’ll 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: It’s 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 Jim’s 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