An outdoor fireplace can be a valuable investment for anyone. A few factors however need to be taken into consideration when shopping for one. Your safety should come first when shopping for a fireplace. Outlined below are some of the key things to consider when looking to buy a fireplace for your family.
It would be advisable to consider the fireplace’s size, and especially the fire area when shopping for one. The fire area should be big enough to allow smooth feeding of firewood. This should be the first thing you look at before considering height.
While tall and thin fireplaces aren’t recommended, going for a fireplace with a large firebox would be a wise decision. A small fire bowl can be costly in the end. This is because you may have to chop firewood into smaller pieces to fit, which is an added expense. One of the advantages of a large fireplace is that you can still make a smaller fire with the same, which is unlike a small fireplace.
The best outdoor fireplaces burn more efficiently and cleanly when compared to fire pits. This is because it draws more air into the fire, which blows out through the neck hence an efficient burn. Firepit designs aren’t particularly recommended for they tend to smolder and smoke more than traditional fireplace designs. This has been attributed to poor airflow in this design.
Proper Fireplace Maintenance
Cast iron and aluminum fireplaces last a lot longer and much easier to maintain when compared to sheet steel, clay, or commercial copper fireplaces. Although you may consider sheet metal fireplaces, these don’t last long hence pretty much disposables. This is because the metal sheet rusts easily bringing its life to an end. You however should check the thickness of the metal sheet or gauge before making the purchase. Stay away from thin sheets.
Most types of cast iron fireplaces have sheet metal necks or chimneys. Be sure to check the availability of replacement parts and cost of the same before making an order. You don’t want to be replacing the neck now and then. Proper and adequate maintenance is required with cast iron to prevent rusting. While the process may not be simple, a well-maintained cast iron fireplace can last for years. You might also want to consider placement of the same on the purchase.
Cast iron fireplaces also tend to stain surfaces they stand on. Using high-temperature paint to paint it over can however help reduce rusting. One advantage of cast iron is that it is relatively heavy, thus can stand lots of abuse.
Copper may also seem like an excellent option for a fireplace until it starts getting rusty and green. Manufacturers of the same however drill holes at the bottom of outdoor firepits to help drain water and ash out when it rains. Firepits without this feature will fill with water should it rain.
Cast aluminum is the best bet for an outdoor fireplace. Aluminum is durable and much easier to maintain, doesn’t warp, and has a lower melting temperature when compared to cast iron. Cast aluminum doesn’t rust either. Aluminum is much lighter than iron and copper; this means moving the fireplace around will be much easier.
Weight is another factor you ought to consider when shopping for a fireplace. With weight a critical factor in fireplace production, you need to weight the fireplace first before making an order. Just be sure to compare the same material when weighing the fireplaces.
As mentioned earlier, cast aluminum is the best material for an outdoor fireplace. It is an even better choice for the outdoor enthusiast. This is because cast aluminum fireplaces are durable, easy to maintain and move around. The fireplace can be stored inside the house during winter to prevent possible theft and damage.
As the name suggests, a clay fireplace is very delicate hence can fall apart anytime. It can be quite a mess should the bottom part fall out. Clay fireplaces should only be placed on tiles or cement foundations and never on wooden surfaces. Surfaces that could be damaged by heat or fire should be avoided with clay fireplaces as well.
Several safety precautions should be taken when using a clay fireplace. For instance, you will need a mouth screen and spark arrestor for safety. Clay fireplaces are however much cheaper though have a shorter lifespan.
Raised Firepits and Surround-View Fireplaces
Surround view fireplaces are generally built using light materials. The risk of tipping over is generally high, a factor that can send embers and ash everywhere. Safety can therefore be quite an issue for surround view fireplaces. Even the slightest breeze can send embers and flammable materials.
If a raised firepit is your preferred option, you then should make sure it comes with a lid. The lid will help protect it from the rain and ash spreading allover should it rain.
Hardwood is the most popular and preferred fuel for outdoor fireplaces. You can go for pinon wood for a pleasant pine scent as the wood burns. Hardwood keeps the flame active for long and generates good amounts of heat. The pine scent also helps keep insects away. You can also use gel inserts, propane, natural gas, or manufactured fire logs as alternative fuels as well. Applewood and pinecones produce a sweet aroma hence recommended as well.
If you need more help with this then check out this outdoor fireplace guide book.