One of the latest trends is to place a television above the fireplace. While this is beautiful and a good use of space, there are some practical considerations before making that move.
Have you ever sat in the front row at the theatre and left with a sore neck after the movie? In smaller rooms, consider what angle you will be viewing from and for how long. For maximum comfort, the TV should be at a level without needing to raise your head. Will most of your viewing occur sitting or standing?
HEAT OUTPUT OF YOUR FIREPLACE
Being in a northern climate we tend to rely on our fireplaces more so than our southern neighbours. Is your fireplace used as a heating source or just for occasional use? Is it a heater rated fireplace or an ambiance fireplace? How frequently do you use it? You need to consider the heat output effect on the appliance directly above. Heat and plastic usually don’t do well together. You can lessen the heat reaching the TV by installing a mantel to deflect the heat away and maybe recessing the TV avoiding the direct path of rising heat.
FIREPLACE MANUFACTURER’S RECOMMENDED CLEARANCES
There are certain clearances to combustibles that need to be followed above and around your fireplace opening. Review your fireplace’s installation manual to ensure they will be met for safety reasons.You may not be able to install your TV as low as you had hoped and maintain minimum clearances. Will your viewing angle still be comfortable?
YOUR TELEVISION’S WARRANTY REQUIREMENTS
Review the television warranty to ensure you don’t void it by subjecting it to high temperatures. Most manufacturers define an optimal operating temperature range with maximum temperatures ranging from 37 to 51 degrees Celsius. Tape a thermometer to wall where the bottom of your TV would be and test what temperature readings you are getting with the fireplace at the highest setting or maximum output. The TV will work in the higher temperatures, but the real question is how long and if it does stop working within the warranty period, will the manufacturer honor it. Many televisions have built-in heat sensors as a safety feature that will shut it them down if overheated; that could get frustrating while watching your favorite program or movie.
ELECTRICAL PROVISIONS FOR THE TV
For existing fireplaces it may be difficult to get electrical wires safely to where they are needed. Keep wires away from hot surfaces behind fireplace walls by using a conduit or cable trays that are firmly secured.
PROPORTIONS AND AESTHETICS
The size of your TV in relation to the size of the fireplace opening are important if you are concerned with the design aspect and potentially resale value of your home. The fireplace opening should ideally be the same width or wider than the TV for good balance and proportion. If reversed, it could feel top heavy and unstable.
When buying a new fireplace, these are factors that need to be considered in your fireplace design. At Nordic Energy we can guide you through this process to determine if it is the best alternative for your room and how to make it safe, for maximum comfort and maximum life for your TV investment. Stop by our showroom at 2324 Long Lake Rd., and explore your alternatives.
Anyone who has trudged through a bitter Ontario winter can appreciate the comfort, warmth and convenience of a gas fireplace. It’s not only an efficient and economical way to stay warm, a gas fireplace requires far less attention and effort than a wood burning fireplace.
Even so, it’s still important to schedule annual cleaning and maintenance service to keep your investment in good shape. Neglected gas fireplaces can develop a handful of dangerous – and ultimately expensive – problems. If you don’t service your gas fireplace regularly, you might have trouble with…
DUST, DIRT AND DEAD BUGS
Dust, dirt and dead insects (yuck) build up in just about every open space in your fireplace, causing it to burn inefficiently with reduced airflow. There are many components that get inspected for condition including wiring, logs, gas piping, gaskets, burners, etc.
A gas fireplace that produces soot needs immediate attention. Unlike wood-burning fireplaces, black soot should never build up in a healthy gas appliance. If soot becomes visible adjustments and cleaning will be necessary
WEAR AND TEAR
Every piece of technology with moving parts in your home needs regular maintenance to operate as it’s designed to. Your gas fireplace is no different. Parts wear out, especially when the work environment goes from cold or room temperature to very hot in a short space of time, over and over.
Valves and gas connections can develop leaks, the thermocouple and thermopile need regular cleaning and inspection and the ceramic logs need cleaning and proper placement. Neglected gas fireplaces are common sources of house fires across Ontario in the winter.
Birds, bats, squirrels other creatures choose chimneys for nesting or protection from the elements. Nests, especially those built by squirrels, can block a chimney flue, causing serious venting problems.
New gas fireplace models run so efficiently that they extract more of the heat that was once expelled through the chimney and deliver it to your living space. While no one wants to waste heat, the chimney needs warm air to provide the draft that removes gases and moisture from the flue. If the flue temperature becomes too low, the water and gases become corrosive, which can cause the liner, mortar and even the brickwork to crumble and flake.
As a homeowner, you naturally want to ensure safe and efficient use of your fireplace as well as maximizing its service life – but you may not have the time or aptitude for doing it yourself. That’s where our team of certified, insured technicians come in.
We can make sure your gas fireplace is clean, safe and equipped to deliver efficient heat to your family for years to come.
Contact our team today for your annual cleaning and service.
Firewood that burns longer and cleaner can save you time and effort, as well as help you stick to your green lifestyle and maintain a cleaner, mold free storage space.
TimberSmart briquettes make for a cleaner fire and burn twice as long, which makes the whole experience that much nicer.
DENSE AND EASY
Denser firewood burns longer because there’s more mass to burn.
Denser fuel means a longer fire you can enjoy without piling on more.
TimberSmart bricks are exactly what they sound like, simple bricks of uniform size and composition that do better in your fire than split log firewood. Just kindle your fire, put on some TimberSmart and lounge for awhile. This type of fuel wood burns twice as long as regular wood, so you can keep your home toasty for the entire winter without having to chop and season multiple cords of wood.
ORDERLY AND TIDY
One of the best things about escaping the city is that you can indulge in an open-air wood fire. One annoyance is loading up your entire trunk with heavy, sliver-causing, dusty firewood.
With TimberSmart recycled wood briquettes you can get more fire with less fuel, leaving more space for the comforts your family wants to bring to the campsite. There’s minimal mess because these briquettes are packaged in heat shrunk plastic. Also, since they’re shaped like bricks you can just stack them up in a nice wall or pyramid shape. When you head back to the city, bring your leftovers and stack them cleanly in the corner of the family room – no mess.
You also don’t have to worry about smoking or sooting up your home with TimberSmart. The high burn temperature means a lot less soot and smoke comes from your fire.
BUG-FREE AND MOVABLE
When you stack and cure firewood in your garage, it attracts insects. The nooks and crannies between each piece of wood make for great micro-condos.
TimberSmart bricks stack perfectly and are so dry, no creatures would want to move in if they could.
If your family gets squeamish around bugs and you get squeamish about a winter without a soothing fire, this is your solution!
TimberSmart wood products are incredibly green.
They are made of leftover sawdust from wood products manufacturing from that would otherwise be considered landfill. They are carbon neutral meaning the carbon released is equal to the carbon absorbed by new tree growth. With TimberSmart products you don’t have to feel bad about having a nice wood fire.
A clean and easy-to-store set of fire briquettes is just what you need. So try out TimberSmart, and see how much fun it is having a clean, gorgeous fire without doing a lot of work.
Ah! There’s just something about the glowing hues of fire that can leave you transfixed, calmed by the bright dancing flames in front of you. Some researchers believe that watching fire is one of our primal habitual instincts. And, if rising sales of crackling fireplace DVDs are any indication (a strange but studied truth), these researchers just might be on to something.
Today, the fireplace still radiates feelings of luxury and comfort. There are a number of fireplace options, types and purposes to choose from that no longer imply you have to have deep pockets to feel cozy and warm. With today’s technology, design and efficiency improvements, as well as initial affordability, owning a fireplace no longer has to make you feel left out in the cold, or burned paying those costly monthly bills.
At Nordic Energy, we believe many prospective buyers will see a gas fireplace as the best option to provide heated comfort on cold nights. It’s overall heat output efficiency, low maintenance needs, easy installation, and fewer environmental impacts than wood-burning units, make it a great choice.
But let’s take a look at some pros and cons of some other options, including gas, that are available on the market.
- Sounds: the crackle of wood burning
- Environmental impact: sustainable wood availability
- Least costly way of heating
- Upkeep: checking the chimney, removing ashes,
- Labour-intensive: the arduous work of collecting and chopping wood.
- Proactively securing wood supply for future seasons
GAS/ PROPANE FIREPLACES OR STOVES OR INSERTS
- Easy maintenance: no ash or soot clean up
- Time and space-saver: no need to bundle or chop wood, and no space required for fuel storage
- Easy to use: light the fire with push of a button
- Reliable: if there is a power failure, many can be lit up manually or don’t need electricity at all
- Unit size: can come in very small and modular models to ensure even the smallest spaces can bask in the comforting glow (think apartments, or even mobile homes)
- Heat efficient: steady state efficiency around 80%, compared to 10-30% when using an open wood fireplace or older wood stove
- If offsetting Oil or Electric, cost savings possible.
- Costly: typically increases gas and (possible minor if using blower) electric monthly bills
- Limited: to the costs of fuel
- Easy to install: no vents or chimney needed
- Efficient: electricity is considered almost 100% efficient for heat output.
- Costly: May see a significant increase in your electricity bill
- Poor visual quality: do not produce real flames
- Eco-friendly: produces little to no smoke or odours
- Has a real flame, ambiance like a real wood stove
- Little additional cost to electricity: adds 200W draw while running. Excellent leverage of one energy source to generate heat.
- Pellet bags must be manually handled and loaded into stove
- Homeowner has Daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning and servicing tasks
- Availability: pellets may not be readily available in your area
- Eco-friendly: these types do not introduce any new toxic chemicals into the air
- Very pricy
- No real heating value
- Easy to use and transport
- Availability: may not be readily available in your area as it is a fairly newer burning alternative
To ensure your fireplace is as efficient as it can be, you’ll need to determine a few things first, like your home’s current heating system or what you may want to change it to, installation costs, maintenance costs (over years of ownership).
Here at Nordic Energy we pride ourselves in providing you with the knowledge and expertise our professionals have to offer. For more information or questions on how you can enjoy your own fire glow, get in touch with us today.
‘Tis the season for holiday cheer, and a few rounds of eggnog while gathered with family and friends. And what better welcome and entertaining focal point for you and your guests to enjoy than the warm glow of your fireplace. But you don’t have to stop there. Oh ho ho ho, no! Along with that decorated tree or what have you in the corner, you may want to think about sprucing up your fireplace mantle as a way to really relish in the season’s festivities. In this post we’re going to take a look at some easy do-it-yourself merry mantle ideas, while keeping in mind fire safety.
DESIGN BASICS & SAFETY
Before your shopping or your household rummaging begins, there are a few basic design elements to keep in mind when decorating your fireplace mantle. This will ensure your creation that others will have heard on high. So, what are some things you should know to choose the best, most appropriate decorations for your masterpiece? Let’s take a look!
- Balance: as a focal point, ensure you have a good mix of large and smaller decore items in order to create balance
- Mantle Size: make sure to choose festive items based on the proportions of your mantle.
- Room Ambiance: to ensure flow and harmony within the room, look at extending the room’s existing theme—this also means staying in the same colour family
- Number of Items: restrict the number of decorations to work with. This will ensure your mantle doesn’t have a cluttered or mish-mashed look
- Flammability: make sure to choose holiday décor that is fire safe (books, kerosene oil lamps, fabrics, even certain flowers and plants may not be well-suited to atop a heated fireplace)
- Remember, depending on the type of fireplace you own, gas or wood, there will be a set of rules and protocols as to what items may or may not be appropriate to place on the mantle. Consult with the manufacturer’s guide to ensure proper safety and awareness of ignition free decorating ‘safe zones’.
FESTIVE MANTLE IDEAS
So now that you’ve got the basic understanding of how to decorate your mantle, let’s take a look at what you’ll need in order to create your own festive, fun, and elegant fireplace mantle!
Simple & Refined
Materials: garland, stockings, letters, hooks
Sophisticated & Natural
Materials: cedar garland, pinecones, wire, branches, reindeer moss, white and green flowers, terracotta containers, scented candles or cinnamon sticks, oranges and limes
Personal & Colorful
Materials: evergreen garland, carnations, julep cups, holiday cards
Vintage & Whimsical
Materials: faux snow, coloured or clear mason jars, glass ornaments, antique decorations, sparkling snowflakes, holiday greeting garland
OTHER MANTLE DECORATING IDEAS
Turn your mantle into an advent calendar countdown to Christmas
Turn surplus ornaments into a holiday display by using various vases and bowls
Repurpose an old window as a Christmas mantle masterpiece.
Candy jar mantle
Fill clear glass containers with candy that coordinates with your color scheme. Let the Holiday snacking begin!
What a great way to surprise your family with the news of a booked holiday vacation!
So there you have it. Some great fireplace mantle ideas to get you in the holiday spirit! Remember, with a little creativity you can create a festive focal point masterpiece.
Contact Nordic Energy today to upgrade your fireplace in time for the holiday season!
Creosote is not a single substance. It is a family of closely related chemical compounds, which come from natural sources. The most common type of creosote is coal-tar creosote utilized in industrial processes. Wood-tar creosote is also widely used and is familiar to homeowners as the black, oily substance lining fireplace chimneys. There are less common creosote varieties derived from water gas, peat moss, lignite and petroleum.
CHEMISTRY OF CREOSOTE
Wood-tar creosote was characterized chemically in the early 1800s by a German scientist, Carl Reichenbach. He found that its antiseptic and preservative properties were derived from the pyroligneous acids contained within creosote.
One of the primary properties of creosote or creosote oil is that it sinks in water. Depending on what substance it was derived from, it also maintains viscosity at very low temperatures and boils around 200 degrees Celsius. It is highly resistant to dissolution in water.
Wood-tar creosote predominantly contains plant phenolics and complex phenols, including methyl ethers. The high concentration of methyl ethers is a main differentiator between wood-tar and coal-tar creosotes. Most wood-tar creosote is derived from beechwood.
HISTORICAL USES OF CREOSOTE
Derivatives of the creosote bush were used by southwest Native American tribes as medicines for treating sores, snakebites and gastrointestinal conditions. Cedar tree oil, which contains many compounds found in wood-tar creosote, found use throughout Europe for treating a wide variety of maladies including toothache, parasitic infections and skin diseases. Wood-tar creosote is the active preservative and flavoring component for meat that is dried and smoked with a wood fire.
MODERN USES OF CREOSOTE
Creosote’s main value is as a wood preservative. Most wood preservatives that use creosote utilize coal-tar creosote, which is more effective than wood-tar creosote for this purpose.
Wood-tar creosote also finds uses at the consumer level. It is the main ingredient in a handful of meat flavouring products. A derivate of wood-tar creosote, known generically as guaifinesin, is the main ingredient in most over the counter cough medicines. Seirogan is a popular medicine in Japan used as an anti-diarrheal whose main ingredient is wood-tar creosote.
Since the mid-1800s, creosote was used to protect railroad ties, utility poles and marine pilings from wood rot. It was also used for lamps, but only outdoors as burning it produced a black, oily smoke. Despite the much higher toxicity of coal-tar creosote, it still found medical use as a caustic agent and antiseptic well into the 20th century.
Today, coal-tar creosote’s natural water repellency and toxicity to fungus and insects still makes it ideal as a wood preservative in industrial and consumer applications. However, due to its highly toxic nature, its application has been limited to professionals by regulation in both Europe and North America.
The black, shiny creosote that can build up in fireplace or woodstove flues is similar to commercial wood-tar creosote except that it usually contains more carbon. It accumulates when firewood is burned at too low a temperature that prevents complete combustion. This usually comes about because of poor draft or using unseasoned wood. Highly efficient woodstoves resist creosote buildup.
When creosote accumulates on the sides of a chimney, a self-reinforcing effect is created. As the chimney narrows due to the buildup, draft is reduced, which further reduces full combustion, which leads to further creosote accumulation.
A hot fire may ignite the chimney creosote at any time. Creosote has a very high burning temperature, so the resulting chimney fire may cause the home’s structure to catch fire also. In fact, about a quarter of residential fires are caused by chimney fires due to creosote buildup. Thus, regular inspection of chimney flues by qualified chimneysweeps is highly recommended.
We offer cleaning services for all sorts of fireplaces and stoves. Call us today to book a service appointment and give your family peace of mind.