When stuck in the throes of a frigid winter, a good fireplace can feel like a godsend. Electric, wood, or gas fireplaces, each in their own way, will not only warm up a home but can also save you money on energy bills. Giving you control over the temperature in your house and creating special ambiances ranging from romantic to cozy.
Alas, they aren’t infinite solutions. Like many of the other marvels of modern technology and home comfort, they can break down and deteriorate without proper care. Eventually, they may need to be replaced entirely. Being caught out with a broken fireplace and left shivering in the dead of winter is no place to be. What are some of the signs to look out for to make sure that that never happens to you?
Before we get into some of these telltale indicators, we should let you know that if you start to see enough of them, the Original Flame is happy to be of assistance. We are the fireplace experts in Peterborough, ON. We offer fireplace installation services and fireplace maintenance to customers, and we serve the general northeastern Ontario region. With our help, you’ll have the perfect fireplace to banish the cold from your home.
Some of the signs that will be discussed will vary between wood, gas, or electric fireplaces. What you look for should vary somewhat depending on the type that you have in your home. With that, let’s get into some signs that your fireplace may be due for replacement.
1. Your Fireplace isn’t Heating Your Home Like it Used to
As obvious as it is that this is a bad sign, some people may either ignore it or underplay its significance. A fireplace is supposed to heat your home. If it doesn’t, this is nearly always the first sign that something is the matter. This is an especially significant red flag if you happen to have either a gas or an electric fireplace. Often, such fireplaces are hooked up to broader systems within your home. Whether to your home’s general HVAC system or to some sort of electrical power source. And so the fireplace’s failure to generate and distribute enough heat may point to a larger systemic problem.
If you notice this happening, we recommend calling a technician over to do some fireplace maintenance for you and discover the real source of the problem. The problem may or may not actually be your fireplace. Your thermostat may be out of kilter, your circuit breaker may be busted, or something else unrelated to your fireplace may be wrong. It’s always wise to make sure.
2. Your Fireplace is Too Old
Different fireplaces have different life spans. Prefab wood fireplaces can last for 30 years or longer. Indeed, classic wood fireplaces made of brick and mortar can remain functional for generations if they are properly maintained. A gas or electric fireplace insert, however, despite requiring less maintenance and care, can probably only continue functioning reliably for somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10 to 20 years.
If your unit happens to be coming upon any of these deadlines, you should start thinking about replacing it. Cleaning out ash and dust regularly or calling technicians over for regular maintenance may extend these lifespans somewhat, but they should always be kept in mind.
3. You Notice a Constant Burning Smell or the Smell of Sulfur
This is a problem specifically associated with gas fireplaces. If when turning on your fireplace you notice the smell of sulfur — an unmistakably unpleasant stench similar to the smell of rotten eggs — turn the unit off immediately. It’s time to call a technician over to check up on it as soon as possible. The presence of this smell is an almost surefire sign of a gas leak, meaning that leaving the unit on before this problem is involved will expose you to serious danger.
After checking out your unit, the technician may either be able to resolve the issue himself, or herself may detect a more systemic problem that will require you to replace the unit.
A burning smell is a similarly problematic indicator. A natural gas fireplace should not produce a burning smell. If you notice one, it may mean that dust or debris have been caught somewhere in your system and need to be cleaned out.
4. You Notice White Stains on Your Chimney or Fireplace
This is a major indicator of possible danger for a wood fireplace, though it can afflict other types as well. Have you noticed a white chalk-like coating covering the masonry of your fireplace or chimney? This is a sign that excess moisture has been trapped in the masonry. Merely cleaning off the coating will not remove the problem. Serious repair work will be required. If the problem is severe enough, outright replacement may be in order, particularly since accumulating moisture can eventually break apart your masonry.
5. You Keep Having to Call People Over to Do Maintenance
This one may be the most ominous and glaring sign of all. If your fireplace expels smoke into a room or fails to properly provide and distribute heat – you may be in trouble. Mishaps like this are annoying but ultimately resolvable with the services of a competent maintenance technician. If you find yourself having to rely on the services of such people with increasing frequency, that’s a telling indicator that the end may be near. At some point, the cost of continuous maintenance will become unjustifiably high. You may be better off simply cutting your losses and outright buying a new fireplace or fireplace insert.
What Should You Do?
None of these signs alone mean that you should immediately reach out to a fireplace supplier, pick out a new model, and request fireplace installation services. There are other signs you might want to look out for as well, like rust buildup around your firebox. Fireplaces that persistently seem to flood your home when they didn’t before are also a problem. Deteriorating mortar joints and an accumulation of chimney tile collecting in your fireplace — otherwise known as sharing — are also not good signs. When you notice a cumulative string of problems like this, replacement is likely in your future.
Since the replacement is sometimes a significantly costly undertaking, we advise doing one final confirmatory maintenance check before taking the plunge and getting a new unit. If that’s what you decide to do, the Original Flame has a superb selection of fireplaces to choose from. Including, wood, gas, ethanol, and electric fireplaces for you to look into. All Fireplaces that we carry, are masterfully crafted and designed with energy efficiency and their potential environmental impacts in mind. You can find important information about our fireplaces here.
Also, if you have any questions about how to operate any of our units and what the differences between them entail, please check out this page.
The Original Flame is proud to be the finest fireplace store in Peterborough. We recognize the importance of staying warm for the winter and of making your home an inviting place when the outside world is anything but. The Original Flame is so much more than just a fireplace supplier. We offer expert-level fireplace maintenance to all in the vicinity of Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes as well.
If you see any of the above-noted problems with your fireplace, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Let our expert team at The Original Flame in Peterborough, help make sure to keep your home fires burning.