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What Is A Fireplace?

What is a fireplace? - Fast Replacement Glass answers your questions!A fireplace is literally an opening in your wall with a flue and chimney situated above it for smoke ventilation. Some fireplaces have doors and/or a screen – others do not. Some fireplaces have an elevated hearth – others are level with the floor. Regardless of the design, a fireplace is either masonry or zero clearance (as known as prefab or factory built).


Masonry fireplace, zero clearance fireplace and a fireplace insert.

  • Masonry means that the fireplace was crafted by masons, and it can be fabricated from brick, stone, or tile. The fireplace, flue, and chimney are all connected – they are one piece, so to speak. Masonry fireplaces are designed to burn wood. Tthis type of fireplace is built with your home and essentially cannot be "added" to your home. Masonry fireplaces are handsome accents that are valued at $25,000 or more, depending on the size and particulars.



  • Zero Clearance/Prefab/Factory Built means that a metal box has been constructed by a manufacturer and rather than needing a flue and chimney, it requires a double-walled pipe for ventilation. The firebox has been sufficiently insulated so that it is capable of being placed within close range of combustible materials (wood framework or drywall). It does not require a masonry surround. The firebox may be fabricated with or without refractory bricks inside. While wood burning zero clearance fireplaces requires a hearth, gas burning models do not. In fact, these gas versions are fabricated from materials that keep the outside of the unit from getting hot enough to burn its surroundings. Always consult with a professional before installing this type of fireplace.


How Is This Different From A Fireplace Insert?

  • An insert is a firebox surrounded by a steel shell. A decorative faceplate camouflages the space that will inevitably exist between the insert and the fireplace opening. They are a cost-effective way to improve the look of your home without having to install a gas burning application or tear down and replace an existing masonry fireplace. 
  • Inserts are capable of burning wood, pellets, or gas. Often, when homeowners are seeking to update the look of their existing masonry fireplace, they will place the insert right into the fireplace opening, much like you would do with a free-standing stove. 
  • Another variation is the vent free fireplace insert. This clean burning system allows the combustion by-product (wood or gas heat) to stream into a large, open room. Vent free applications are only available in certain states and must meet strict by-laws and fire codes. (Consulting with a contractor or certified professional is highly recommended.)


Last updated on July 28th 2017.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need more information about this product. For general information, or inquiries not related to this product, please contact us directly instead. Thank you!


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