Conversations by the fireplace

The West­ern Euro­pean fire­place has long been con­sid­ered a sym­bol of home com­fort. Nowa­days, it only remote­ly resem­bles that smoky and almost unheat­ed hearth, near which Sher­lock Holmes and Dr. Wat­son sat on chilly Lon­don evenings. Thanks to mod­ern tech­ni­cal solu­tions, the fire­place has become much safer and more effi­cient. But just like the old days, its design allows you to admire the bewitch­ing play of the flame.

Conversations by the fireplace Gray Factory/StuvIt is almost impos­si­ble to imag­ine life out­side the city with­out a fire­place. Of course, when liv­ing in a house for a long time, it is prob­lem­at­ic to use such a hearth as the main heater: the heat it pro­duces is too uneven­ly dis­trib­uted in time and space. Nev­er­the­less, with the help of a fire­place with a closed fire­box, it is quite pos­si­ble to warm up a small cot­tage in the off-sea­son and even in win­ter, or to sig­nif­i­cant­ly “sup­port” the exist­ing water or air heat­ing sys­tem.

The mod­ern mar­ket offers many con­struc­tive and design solu­tions for fire­places. What cri­te­ria should be fol­lowed when choos­ing com­po­nents? What can you save on, and where should you not spare the cost? How to avoid errors dur­ing instal­la­tion? We will try to answer these and oth­er ques­tions in the arti­cle. But first, let’s find out how a fire­place with a built-in closed fire­box dif­fers from oth­er rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the “fam­i­ly” of fire­places.

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Dana/Chemines Philippe
Conversations by the fireplace Pho­to 4
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1.2. The cladding for the fire­box can be done by the con­struc­tion method or you can pur­chase a ready-made set of parts. Some­times, for exam­ple, for fire­box­es Luna (from 155 thou­sand rubles) (1), and Venus (from 119 thou­sand rubles) (2), the man­u­fac­tur­er offers var­i­ous fram­ing projects that can be changed. 3. Atoll fire­place with sawn shell rock fac­ing. Kit price- from 137 thou­sand rubles. 4–6. Grand Vision (from 520 $) (4); 925 F with auto­mat­ic gate (from 155 thou­sand rubles) (5.6)

At the cross­roads

Open fire­places, such as clas­sic Eng­lish or trendy island fire­places, will help cre­ate a cozy atmos­phere in the house and dec­o­rate the inte­ri­or. By the way, such a hearth does not have to be laid out of stone or brick.- You can pur­chase a fin­ished prod­uct made of steel, cast iron, sawn nat­ur­al stone or con­crete mod­ules. But today, an open fire­place has essen­tial­ly ceased to be con­sid­ered a heat­ing device, because it is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine a less ener­gy-sav­ing prin­ci­ple of oper­a­tion. The straight-through chim­ney and the inabil­i­ty to reduce the amount of air sup­plied to the fur­nace cause a loss of approx­i­mate­ly 80% of the heat. BUTa char­coal fly­ing out of an open hearth can cause a fire, so you will have to addi­tion­al­ly buy a spark arrester screen made of glass or met­al mesh.

Mod­ern units are deprived of these short­com­ings: fire­places with a closed fire­box, ready-made met­al fire­place stoves, as well as fire­place stoves made of stone or ceram­ic mod­ules. Fire­place stoves are the most afford­able, do not require any assem­bly work (except for the instal­la­tion of a chim­ney) and foun­da­tion con­struc­tion, are com­pact and begin to give off heat very quick­ly. How­ev­er, for the most part, they are char­ac­ter­ized by an unpre­ten­tious design. A soap­stone or ceram­ic fire­place stove, on the con­trary, is mas­sive and looks very sol­id, and thanks to the built-in smoke cir­cu­la­tion, its effi­cien­cy is even slight­ly high­er than that of fel­low fire­places. But it also costs, as a rule, much more. Toin addi­tion, such a unit is more suit­able for a house designed for per­ma­nent res­i­dence, since it takes sev­er­al hours to warm it up (but the fire­place stove keeps heat for a long time).

Lift doors

Fire­box­es with a ver­ti­cal­ly ris­ing door are used in the con­struc­tion of fire­places that have both mod­ern and clas­sic designs. This design solu­tion has almost no effect on the tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of the unit, but the price of the fur­nace can be increased by 1.5–2 times. The lift­ing mech­a­nism con­sists of guides for the door, coun­ter­weight, chains and dri­ve rollers equipped with bear­ings. So that the glass can be washed from the inside, man­u­fac­tur­ers usu­al­ly also pro­vide the abil­i­ty to open the door or tilt it for­ward. The chains of the mech­a­nism need to be lubri­cat­ed every few years; in order not to dis­as­sem­ble the chim­ney cas­ing for this, it is bet­ter to imme­di­ate­ly make a spe­cial win­dow. ATin prin­ci­ple, fire­box­es with a lift­ing door can be oper­at­ed in open hearth mode, how­ev­er, do not make a hot fireLim­it your­self to two or three small logs.

Fire­places with a closed fire­box are clos­er in their tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics to fire­place stoves, how­ev­er, they often require a foun­da­tion (which is best pro­vid­ed at the design stage of the house). In the pres­ence of stone cladding, they acquire heat-accu­mu­lat­ing prop­er­ties (although they are far from fire­place stoves in this regard). The effi­cien­cy of the units is about 70%, and the rat­ed pow­er- it depends main­ly on the dimen­sions of the fur­nace and the method of sup­ply­ing com­bus­tion air- reach­es 20 kW (usu­al­ly, when choos­ing, they are guid­ed by the norm: 1 kW for 8–14m2 heat­ed area).

Per­haps the main advan­tage of a fire­place with a closed fire­box- mod­u­lar assem­bly prin­ci­ple, pro­vid­ing a wide range of design solu­tions. It will not be dif­fi­cult for a sup­port­er of tra­di­tion to find an Eng­lish-style hearth. BUTan adher­ent of the lat­est trends in inte­ri­or design will like an unadorned “screen” on the wall or a slen­der col­umn filled with fire.

ATflame reflections

Tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics, ser­vice life of the unit and even its design are large­ly deter­mined by the mate­r­i­al and engi­neer­ing solu­tion of the fire­box. Mod­ern fire­box­es cost 20–1400$. depend­ing on the design type, dimen­sions and man­u­fac­tur­er’s name. Usu­al­ly this is 20–50% of the price of the entire fire­place (includ­ing the foun­da­tion, cladding, chim­ney and con­struc­tion and instal­la­tion work).

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7. Zalana fire­place built into the wall. Price with instal­la­tion- from 300 thou­sand rubles. 8. DoVision mod­els (from 380 $), the door can be com­plete­ly removed, turn­ing the fire­box into an open one. 9.10. Fire­box mod­els: Com­pact (from 300 $) (9); Panoram­ic T (from 700 $) (10). The sec­ond is an insert for “upgrad­ing” a mason­ry fire­place. 11. Mod­el 851- com­bined fire­box with a pow­er of 20 kW (from 235 thou­sand rubles) 12. Fire­place with a ver­ti­cal fire­box Luna Gold (from 170 thou­sand rubles)

Fire­box­es are cast iron, steel and com­bined. Which one do you pre­fer? Well-Known West­ern Man­u­fac­tur­ers- Fab­ri­or, Godin, Invic­ta, Seguin, Supra (all- France), Ver­mont Cast­ings (Cana­da), Jotul (Nor­way), ABX (Czech Repub­lic)- pro­duce cast-iron fire­box­es main­ly for clas­sic fire­places. The use of steel sug­gests more mod­ern archi­tec­tur­al solu­tions. Small batch­es of orig­i­nal fire­box­es, such as the so-called through (with two glazed facades), are made only of steel- it is unprof­itable to pro­duce cast iron prod­ucts in small quan­ti­ties.

Cast iron fire­box­es assem­bled from cast parts with a spe­cial sealant are often con­sid­ered more durable. Indeed, their wall thick­ness reach­es 10mm. ToIn addi­tion, cast iron has a high­er ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty than alloy steel. ATAs a result, the fur­nace gives off the heat of burn­ing logs to the sur­round­ing air bet­ter, while it itself does not over­heat and scale does not form on the met­al. Some man­u­fac­tur­ers, say Haas + Sohn (Czech Repub­lic), Jotul, “allow” burn­ing coal in their cast-iron fur­naces. But cast iron also has dis­ad­van­tages. So, some­times, due to sharp uneven heat­ing, stress­es arise in the crys­tal struc­ture of the mate­r­i­al, and the fire­box cracks. A num­ber of man­u­fac­tur­ers, such as Godin, even pro­vide in some mod­els the pos­si­bil­i­ty of replac­ing the rear wall (it is most sus­cep­ti­ble to ther­mal shock) with­out dis­man­tling the struc­ture. A heavy cast iron door some­times sags due to wear and tear on mov­ing parts, so it is desir­able that the design allows adjust­ment of the hinges. In gen­er­al, a cast-iron fire­box, despite the seem­ing sim­plic­i­ty of the device, requires care­ful and care­ful han­dling, as a com­plex and accu­rate tool. Under this con­di­tion, it will last for decades.

Fedori­no grief

It is no secret that soon­er or lat­er the glass of the fur­nace door is cov­ered with soot. The speed of this process depends on the design of the fur­nace, the cor­rect­ness of the adjust­ments and the qual­i­ty of the fire­wood. So that the con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed sur­face does not have to be washed every day, the fire­box must be equipped with a “clean glass” sys­tem, that is, it must have a nar­row gap above the door that allows the glass to be blown with a descend­ing air flow. Some­times fur­naces are equipped with a so-called pyrolyt­ic self-clean­ing glass sys­tem.- it is, for exam­ple, in some Shemin mod­els#233;es Philippe (Godin). The main thing in it- dou­ble glaz­ing of the door, pro­vid­ing heat­ing of the inner glass to a tem­per­a­ture of 650–750 #186;S. At the same time, organ­ic resins burn out, soot turns into soot flakes and exfo­li­ates from the sur­face. It is bet­ter to wash the glass with a spe­cial tool for fire­place inserts (in extreme cas­es- for ovens). Fresh soot is easy to remove with a damp sponge, dip­ping it in ash.

Steel is sus­cep­ti­ble to cor­ro­sion and scale for­ma­tion, so the walls of the fire­box made from it become thin­ner over time. BUTbecause their thick­ness and so rarely exceeds 4mm, oth­er­wise the price of the prod­uct will unrea­son­ably increase. How­ev­er, all lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers- EdilKa­min, La Nordi­ca (both- Italy), Enbra (Czech Repub­lic), IGC (France), Hansa (Ger­many), Nibe (Swe­den)- use a lin­ing (pro­tec­tive inner lin­ing) with fire­clay or ver­mi­culite plates, which makes it pos­si­ble to negate the named draw­back. It is worth not­ing that ver­mi­culite is con­sid­ered a more heat-inten­sive and envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly mate­r­i­al, but it is afraid of mois­ture and can crack if you use raw fire­wood.

Com­bined fire­box­es made of cast iron and steel struc­tur­al ele­ments have proven them­selves well (most often walls are made of steel, and cast iron- door, grate and smoke box). Such, for exam­ple, are some prod­ucts of Schmidt (Ger­many). But there are also fire­box­es on the mar­ket made of car­bon struc­tur­al or stain­less steel with a thick­ness of 2–3mm, with­out lin­ing, the ser­vice life of which does not exceed 5–8years. We would not rec­om­mend such prod­ucts to our read­ers. Some­times when using a fire­place, defects in the fire­box appear.

Most often there are prob­lems with the door. If the glass is fixed rigid­ly in it (the mount­ing screws are over­tight­ened), it may crack when heat­ed. Then feel free to con­tact the sup­pli­er- this will be con­sid­ered as a war­ran­ty case. But if the wall of the cast-iron fire­box gives a crack, most like­ly you will have to repair the fire­place at your own expense: it is almost impos­si­ble to prove that this is a man­u­fac­tur­ing defect, and not the result of a vio­la­tion of the oper­at­ing rules.

Expert opin­ion

With an excess of air and a ful­ly open gate, the draft increas­es and the fuel burns out very quick­ly, and the room becomes hot. With a lack of air, the fire­wood begins to smol­der, the effi­cien­cy of the unit drops sharply, the glass quick­ly becomes cov­ered with soot, and a lot of con­den­sate and soot form in the chim­ney. There­fore, for most fire­box­es, dur­ing oper­a­tion, you need to peri­od­i­cal­ly change the set­tings, and this caus­es cer­tain incon­ve­niences. Excep­tion- mod­els with a sys­tem of self-reg­u­lat­ing dampers con­trolled by tem­per­a­ture sen­sors, such as Lin­ea T (Hansa) or Luna Gold+ (M‑Design, Bel­gium). The dampers are con­trolled by ther­mal sen­sors built into the walls based on bimetal­lic plates. The required com­bus­tion inten­si­ty is set once- at the stage of instal­la­tion of the fur­nace and chim­ney. Andin the future, the own­er may not think about adjust­ments.

Vitaly Usti­nov, Gen­er­al Direc­tor of the com­pa­ny “Union of Mas­ters”

command the elements

With exter­nal sim­i­lar­i­ty, fire­box­es of dif­fer­ent mod­els may have sig­nif­i­cant design dif­fer­ences. This con­cerns main­ly the method of sup­ply­ing com­bus­tion air. Atmost mod­ern units have two air flows: pri­ma­ry, most often used only at the igni­tion stage and sup­plied to the bot­tom of the fur­nace; sec­ondary, enter­ing either the low­er (usu­al­ly in the pres­ence of a grate) or the upper zone of the fur­nace (when burn­ing on the hearth). The pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary flows can be adjust­ed using dampers. ATThe best fur­naces also have a ter­tiary flow, which is always direct­ed to the upper part of the com­bus­tion area and is intend­ed for the after­burn­ing of flue gas­es. Before enter­ing the fur­nace, the air is heat­ed, pass­ing through the chan­nels in the walls, - with­out this, it will not be pos­si­ble to reach the tem­per­a­ture required for CO after­burn­ing.

To increase heat trans­fer, the out­er sur­face of the fur­nace is made ribbed and thus its area is increased. ATIn the smoke col­lec­tor, two or three hor­i­zon­tal walls of the diaphragm are installed, form­ing a wind­ing chan­nel. Pass­ing through it, flue gas­es give off part of the heat (this is nec­es­sary, in par­tic­u­lar, so that the first chim­ney mod­ule does not over­heat). It is desir­able that the fire­box be equipped with a gate. Then you will be able to reduce the draft with­out prob­lems and there­by slow down the com­bus­tion process.

Expert opin­ion

As a rule, a con­vec­tion gap 30–60 wide is left between the ele­ments of a closed fur­nace and its lin­ required for free air cir­cu­la­tion. The cladding must have ven­ti­la­tion holes for effec­tive heat removal from the fur­nace and chim­ney. If you plan to use the fire­place to heat adja­cent and remote rooms, it makes sense to arrange forced ven­ti­la­tion of the cas­ing. To do this, a spe­cial fan is placed under the fire­box, and hot air is removed from the upper part of the chim­ney box through flex­i­ble sleeves. If addi­tion­al heat from the fire­place is unde­sir­able, it makes sense to choose the option with an open fire­box.

Andrey Pyatenko, tech­ni­cal direc­tor of Saga

Dress for Cinderella

The choice of mod­els of fin­ished fac­ings is unusu­al­ly rich. The most pop­u­lar are the Eng­lish clas­sics: strict urban style (por­tal-type frames designed for a chim­ney laid inside the wall) and more cheer­ful coun­try style (wide base cab­i­net with a niche for fire­wood, a mas­sive wood­en shelf and a cone-shaped or straight chim­ney box). Mod­u­lar fac­ings for clas­sic fire­places are made main­ly from nat­ur­al mate­ri­als. For bud­get prod­ucts, sand­stone-flag­stone, shell rock are used, and for more expen­sive - mar­ble and gran­ite. Ger­man and Ital­ian man­u­fac­tur­ers often use light­weight heat-resis­tant con­crete. I would like to espe­cial­ly note antique cladding made of ceram­ic mod­ules, for exam­ple, prod­ucts from Reg­nier (France).

Giv­en the loft fash­ion and min­i­mal­ism, today man­u­fac­tur­ers offer a large selec­tion of fire­box­es built into a wall or a false col­umn. This solu­tion allows you to save on cladding: instead of it, you get only a facade frame for the fur­nace, and the wall or col­umn is erect­ed inde­pen­dent­ly from cel­lu­lar con­crete or GVL. This approach opens up great oppor­tu­ni­ties for cre­ativ­i­ty, since the design can be sup­ple­ment­ed with a vari­ety of func­tion­al and dec­o­ra­tive ele­ments: wood­pile, wood­en beams, coun­ter­tops attached to the side andt.e. Lead­ing com­pa­nies also pro­duce ready-made ver­sions of por­tal frames in loft and hi-tech styles, made of pati­nat­ed cop­per sheet, paint­ed or pol­ished stain­less steel, brick-like, stone-like steel pan­els, and even fin­ished with wood veneer.

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Gut­brod Keramik
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Gray Factory/Stuv

13. Char­line mod­el with a “through” fire­box and ceram­ic lin­ing (from 470 thou­sand rubles) 14.15. Mar­ble (14) and lime­stone (15) claddings 16. Gut­brod Keramik fire­place (from 214 thou­sand rubles) 17, 18. Mod­ern solu­tions: a fire­place built into a false wall (17) or into a met­al wall struc­ture (18)

Man­tels are most often made from sol­id oak treat­ed with a flame retar­dant. Recent­ly, how­ev­er, a hol­low struc­ture rein­forced with inter­nal stiff­en­ers has become pop­u­lar. Such shelves will not lead, and they will not crack.

Let’s start assembling

The fire­place struc­ture is usu­al­ly mount­ed in this order: first, a base cab­i­net is installed (if the fire­box has no legs), a fire­box is placed on it, then the chim­ney is assem­bled, then- lin­ing and chim­ney box. ToAll the nec­es­sary com­po­nents must be deliv­ered to the facil­i­ty at the sched­uled time, and then the instal­la­tion will take no more than 3 days. ATin a wood­en house, it is also nec­es­sary to take care of the insu­la­tion of the wall to which the fire­place adjoins. The fire­box emits a lot of radi­ant ener­gy, so the pro­tec­tive struc­ture must be sol­id. You can sheathe the sur­face with asbestos card­board or GVL, then lay it (or bet­ter- glue with cement glue) stone wool fire-retar­dant boards, say Fire­Batts (Rock­wool, inter­na­tion­al con­cern) 50 thickmm, and then lay out the wall in half a brick.

Claddings of any mate­r­i­al are assem­bled using heat-resis­tant adhe­sives such as Cere­sit CM17 (Henkel, Ger­many) and Flexk­le­ber (Knauf) or Ivsil Ter­mix (Ivsil, both- Europe). It is impor­tant to keep in mind that if the fire­place rests on a sep­a­rate base that is not con­nect­ed with the foun­da­tion of the house, it is impos­si­ble to fas­ten parts to walls and ceil­ings: due to uneven shrink­age, dis­tor­tions of the struc­ture and its destruc­tion are pos­si­ble. The chim­ney box is dif­fi­cult to assem­ble with­out rely­ing on walls and ceil­ing beams, so an expan­sion joint is pro­vid­ed between it and the cladding. It is bet­ter to make a box from GVLV, and not from GKL, and be sure to insu­late from the inside with foil slabs of stone wool with a thick­ness of 30–50mm, oth­er­wise, under the influ­ence of tem­per­a­ture changes, the joints of the sheets will cer­tain­ly dis­perse.

Who is respon­si­ble for installing the fire­place? You can save mon­ey by con­tact­ing a famil­iar stove mak­er or a trust­ed con­struc­tion com­pa­ny. But then you will be giv­en two or even three sep­a­rate guar­an­tees.- on a fire cham­ber, fac­ing and instal­la­tion works. Andif some­thing hap­pens to the fire­place, your hopes for com­pen­sa­tion for the dam­age are like­ly to be drowned in a flood of recrim­i­na­tions. If you decide to pur­chase an expen­sive fire­box and cladding, you should order instal­la­tion from their sup­pli­er. ATsuch firms always have a staff of pro­fes­sion­al crafts­men who know (at least must know) all the nuances of installing a par­tic­u­lar mod­el. Andyou will be giv­en a full com­pre­hen­sive guar­an­tee with­out any reser­va­tions.

Smoke on the hori­zon

The branch pipe for con­nect­ing to the chim­ney of fire­place inserts is usu­al­ly locat­ed at the top. Its diam­e­ter is usu­al­ly 200, 230, 250 or 300mm. Man­u­fac­tur­ers rec­om­mend using a chim­ney made of steel pipes, although it is pos­si­ble to con­nect to a brick or ceram­ic chim­ney using a steel adapter. In order to use the heat of flue gas­es, experts advise assem­bling a chim­ney from sin­gle-walled (non-insu­lat­ed) pipes with­in a ven­ti­lat­ed cas­ing made of non-com­bustible mate­r­i­al with­in res­i­den­tial floors. True, it must be borne in mind that in this case the amount of con­den­sate will increase marked­ly (espe­cial­ly if you often light a fire­place to heat a cold cot­tage). Most often, a dou­ble-cir­cuit pipe is installed, start­ing from the lev­el of the ceil­ing or inter­floor ceil­ing. Fire­box­es are not designed to take the load from the chim­ney, so the lat­ter must be sup­port­ed on the wall using spe­cial brack­ets.

The edi­tors would like to thank Dana and Saga for their help in prepar­ing the mate­r­i­al.

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