Nothing is better to top off those long winter days than coming in your home and thawing out in front of a fire.  For some, that fire should be nothing less than a natural wood fire.  However, others are just longing for a nice warm fire and don’t care what the source is.  Granted, the crackling and popping of a wood fire along with the aroma that it gives off is even more relaxing.

It is important to know some advantages and disadvantages of wood burning and gas fireplaces before choosing which kind you will have in your home.  Both of them do well in most settings, while some applications will require a certain type.

Wood-Burning Fire Places

For the more traditional kind of people out there, a wood burning fire place is the only way to go.  A natural fire always seems to feel better and warmer than a gas fire.  In recent years, some improvements have even been made to simple wood-burning fireplaces such as insulated fireboxes.  And insulated firebox can help keep the warm air from the fire inside and the cold air out.  Along with installing chimney liner insulation, your fireplace and chimney should be well protected from outside air getting in.

Certain kinds of wood also give off stronger aromas and can fill the room with a warm, welcoming and relaxing scent.  Throwing a piece of cedar in a hot fire can definitely accomplish this.  Check online or experiment for yourself on the best types of wood to burn.  With a gas fireplace, you cannot get these natural aromas.  Along with getting the right kind of wood, comes that task of chopping and stacking the wood.  Chopping wood, though it is a lot of work, can also be a stress reliever.  As many fathers will say: “there is a valuable life lesson to be learned in chopping wood to keep your family warm.”

There are also some downsides to having a wood-burning fireplace.  For instance, the added cost of a chimney to exhaust the smoke and harmful gases can be high sometimes.  Also, due to the need for a chimney, you are limited as to where you can place the fireplace within your home.  These days, chimneys are more often located on the outside of a house.  It is also possible of have a chimney rise up through the inside of a house; however, this will give you random awkward chases all throughout the house in the area where the chimney is.  Due to the safety codes of having a chimney within the home, there will also be a loss of square footage because any walls built around the masonry will have to be a certain distance from the actual brick or cement.

Another downside to having a wood-burning fireplace is the maintenance, chimney maintenance.  The chimney serves as an exhaust for the fireplace.  If the chimney is not kept cleaned and the chimney itself is not maintained properly, then there is a chance that the smoke and harmful gases such as carbon monoxide could leak into your home.  If you decide to go with a fireplace that requires a chimney, it is important to know the basics of how to take care of the chimney.  It is recommended that your chimney be inspected and cleaned professionally at least once a year before using it for the first time.

Gas Fireplaces

A lot of new homes these days are being built with gas fireplaces.  Some people are just happy with any kind of fire no matter where is comes from.  Some don’t want to have to do the work required for wood-burning fireplaces such as buying or chopping wood, or keeping up with the demanding maintenance of chimneys.  There is also an overall sense of rush in society today.  Everyone is in a hurry.  For that reason, gas fireplaces are becoming more and more popular.

Like traditional wood-burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces also have their pros and cons.  It is important to weigh all of your options and needs before making a decision on what kind of fireplace to go with.

It is much easier to flip a switch and have a fire suddenly spring to life than to have to go out in the cold and collect wood and then bring it back in and try to get a fire started.  Most gas fireplaces in new houses are made so that only a pilot light needs to be lit in order to just turn on a switch and have an instant fire.  For the units that have blower fans installed on them, the heat from the gas fire will be blown out into the room and warm it up quickly.

There is no dangerous exhaust from gas fireplaces, and, therefore, no chimney is needed.  That means no chimney sweeping, no chimney inspections and no concerns about draft problems and smoke filling up your living room.  Gas fireplaces have also been built to resemble a real wood fire as well.  The pipes through which the gas passes to create the fire are completely hidden behind faux logs and some even have glowing embers at the bottom to give the effect an even more realistic look.

However, with a gas fireplace, no matter how real they make it look, the rustic scent that comes from burning wood will not be there.  Even though it is an advantage to not have a chimney with a gas fireplace, it is also a disadvantage, for chimneys give a house character.  The beautiful masonry work that makes up the chimney will not be there.  The valuable life lessons that a young boy learns as he chops and stacks firewood will not be there.