Fireplaces are valued for their practical uses, providing heat, cooking food, as well as the visual appeal of logs quietly burning in the firebox. If you own a fireplace, you will probably have to get it repaired or restored at one time or another; if you don't have one, you may wish to have one installed in your home. Either way, you should have a working knowledge of what their parts are called and what they do, so below are some relevant terms.
Mantel – The frame surrounding a fireplace or the shelf over it; also called a mantelpiece.
Hearth – Often made of brick or stone, the hard floor that extends outward from the opening.
Wood-Burning Stove – An enclosed metal appliance, often made of cast iron. A wood-burning stove is primarily used for heating.
Fireplace Insert – An appliance designed to fit inside, and enhance of functioning of, an existing fireplace. Considered more efficient and easy to handle than a standard wood-burning model, a fireplace insert can run on a variety of fuels, including gas and wood. They are fitted with glass doors that allow a view of its fire.
Electric Fireplace – An electrical installation intended to imitate a conventional fireplace. Unlike its wood or gas burning cousins, it does not require ventilation.
Outdoor Fireplace – One constructed outside the house, typically in the patio area.
Screen – A panel that blocks children and animals from getting close to the flames.
Fireplace Tools – The general term for pokers, tongs, and similar accessories.
Corner Fireplace – As the name indicates, a fireplace installed in the corner of a room.
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Fireplaces provide a contained and controlled space where people can enjoy the warm crackle of a fire. While outdoor fire pits filled with fresh wood often come to mind, when many people refer to fireplaces they are referring to indoor electric or gas options.
Historically, household fireplaces were constructed to provide heat or cook food much like a brick stove. Today, many people install fireplaces simply to surround themselves with the outdoor feel of burning wood. The practical application of removing the screen door and inserting food into the fireplace, as if it were a stove, is far less common.
Still, even a gas or electric fire could easily burn anyone who gets too close, or touches a hot accessories or tool that has recently been in the fire pit. As such, a household fire should still contain a proper ventilation system for smoke. When you restore your fireplace this is one area to check for repair, as you don’t want log residue clogging your vent.
If you’re looking to add the ambiance of a fire to your home, you’ll need to decide on the mantel that matches the look and feel of the room. It could be a stone, glass, or cast iron mantel, and it could possibly go in the corner of your living room or the patio.
Either way, you’ll need to consider how the style decisions will affect your ability to insert tongs or other accessories into the fireplace. For help choosing the right design, you can call an interior decorator, or research different styles online. Again, though, you’ll first want to find a space in your home where a fireplace can reasonably function.