3 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Fireplace Insert


During these cold and crisp winter months, heating your house and your family is a top priority. Nothing is worse than bundling up in sweaters, slippers and blankets in your own home. However, not everyone has the luxury of using a fireplace efficiently. Chopping, gathering and collecting wood is a never-ending process. In addition, many fireplaces lose a lot of their heat production out the flue rather than into the house. There are better options.

A fireplace insert is a viable and useful alternative, but there are some potential mistakes to avoid when selecting this course of action.

1- Fit

First, and perhaps most obviously, consumers must make sure their desired insert fits! This is common sense but also has layers to it. Factory Buys Direct said, “Besides fitting physically, the insert should also fit aesthetically and practically in its location.” It is easy enough to measure a fireplace for insert sizes, but finding the correct style and shape is more nuanced.

Bob Vila home advice specifically mentions for buyers to be aware of their mantles. This applies to folks building new fireplaces, as well as those purchasing inserts. If your fireplace area has a large, protruding mantle, it may look silly to place a tiny, squat fireplace insert below it. The reverse is also true. A hearth wouldn’t look right if the insert dominates the surrounding architecture. Making sure a fireplace insert fits is the easy part. Making sure it feels like it fits too is key!

2- Practicality

Then there is also the practicality of a new insert. Is it being used to heat an entire room all winter? Will it just be for a small area? Is it more for decorative purposes and not for heating at all? Inserts serve different purposes because not everyone wants the same thing. That means, not every insert that fits will be a smart fit.

As well as appearance, a fireplace insert must be usable in one’s home. Some run on electricity; others use gas, wood, pellets or propane. It would be a drastic mistake to purchase, for example, a gas fireplace without having the ability to easily hook a gas line up to it. Doing so would make the addition more work than it should be. Electricity may be easier, but it could end up costing more when the electric bill comes each month. Wood-burning or pellet-burning models are also options. However, those require more venting than the others, as well as the constant replenishment of material.

The best fuel use will depend on the house and location, as well as buyer preference. Inserts can be more heat-efficient, as well as cheaper than normal fireplaces, if utilized properly for the home in question.

3- Maintenance

Another mistake that buyers make with fireplace inserts is assuming it will be a “set it and forget it” scenario. While easier to maintain than normal fireplaces, inserts have upkeep as well that purchasers may not expect. Some models will have glass covers that can become stained. Normal glass cleaners may not remove the soot and haze, or could make the stain worse. There are product lines made specifically for fireplaces and stoves.

To avoid encountering added cleaning and maintenance, there are inserts with self-cleaning glass fronts. An “air wash” of clean air is directed at the cover to prevent buildup. This is another factor that should be considered when purchasing if one wishes to avoid the pitfalls of not having this feature later on.

Though there are many facets that come up, buying a fireplace insert doesn’t have to be seen as a chore. Instead, it’s a home upgrade that can change the feel and decor of a room. Avoiding some of these common mistakes is key to making sure the end result is exactly what you wanted and fulfills all requirements.