It is elementary, the attraction of fire with its dynamic, shape-changing flames and its warmth. This is why home buyers are so in love – moths in a flame, so to speak – with fireplaces that are often at or near the top of “must-have” home features.
The fireplace season is just around the corner and is officially known as the beginning of November through the end of February. While Southern California isn’t exactly the tundra, we want the house fires to burn in and on the outdoor patios to keep us cool at nights.
The mild winters aren’t the only thing that sets this area apart when it comes to fireplaces. Although brick fireplaces can still be found in many homes, it has been roughly a decade since regulators banned their installation in new housing developments due to pollution issues. Since that time, brick fireplace inserts, gas and electric fireplaces with direct ventilation have become increasingly common, offering technological advances, eye-catching designs, and placement options.
Fireplaces – regardless of their type or source of energy – and their fireplaces are one of the main focal points of a home’s living space and an excellent opportunity to express personal aesthetics, from rustic with brick and stone to modern with clean, sleek and linear lines.
Patricia Rosengren, the Pacific region executive director of the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association based in Pasadena, notes two trends in fireplaces in Southern California: the inclusion of patio fireplaces as part of the outdoor boom and the addition of multiple fireplaces to the home.
“The outdoor space isn’t just a trend, it’s a thing,” said Rosengren. “We are about living outside, and fireplaces are an integral part of these spaces,” as they provide warmth and create a cozy atmosphere.
For multiple fireplaces, Rosengren said residents are now “adding a fireplace” to an upstairs bathroom or bedroom due to the wide availability and range of options for direct exhaust gas and electrical appliances that do not require chimneys in other locations throughout the house.
Types of chimneys
There are three top types of fireplaces that are legally allowed in the Southland:
Brick chimneysMost of the existing single-family homes in California were built in the 1950s, according to Zillow, when brickwork and wood-burning fireplaces were the norm. Almost always made of bricks, they are connected as a coherent element with the fireplace and the chimney.
If you don’t like the strict burning of wood, your brick fireplace can be retrofitted with a fireplace insert that burns natural gas, EPA-certified wood or pellets. It connects to the outside chimney and chimney and is an inexpensive retrofit option compared to installing a new gas chimney with direct ventilation as a replacement.
Direct vent gas firesThe main benefit of a natural gas direct vent fireplace is that you don’t need a fireplace so homeowners can get creative with their placement. From linear designs to those that mimic traditional square fireplaces, advances in the industry have moved from simple, cut, front-facing models to models with no trim, tunnel (“see-through”), corner, three corner, and inside-outside .
Electric fireplacesAn electric fireplace can be installed anywhere without the need for ventilation and can be plugged into any standard household electrical outlet. It can be used with or without heat and most come with an adjustable thermostat.
Again, these offer different style options to appeal to a wide range of design aesthetics, from rustic to contemporary. A recently popular option is media consoles with electric fireplaces that can accommodate large screen televisions and speaker systems.
“Electric fireplaces are especially popular with people who don’t own their homes and want the ambience of a fire,” said Rosengren. “The manufacturers really did a lot to create the flame patterns and they are pretty realistic.”
She says her organization’s retail members will ensure residents select products that meet all California regulations and codes.
“Our trusted retail members are aware of all the technical updates to help homeowners choose and upgrade their fireplaces. So customers can concentrate on the design elements, ”said Rosengren.
Fireplace “media” counts
What’s inside also counts. The national Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, which tracks consumer trends, notes that growing design is leading to greater use of stones and branches as interior materials (called media) in non-woodburned fireplaces.
That’s not to say that glass, granite, and slab media options are still not popular, especially with those looking for a modern aesthetic. However, fireplace media manufacturers have introduced a variety of eye-catching products that realistically imitate nature, such as realistic “charred” logs and “embers”, manufactured logs that look like a campfire or a campfire on the beach, as well as ceramic stones, stones and pebbles.
Wood burning restrictions
Air quality, health, and safety concerns have resulted in construction restrictions and restrictions on the use of wood-burning fireplaces both indoors and outdoors in California.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which oversees most of the residences in the South Coast Air Basin, almost all counties in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino, put strict regulations in place on wood fires in March 2009. Bans are banned in any new housing estate , and those with wood fireplaces are subject to mandatory “no-burn” days, when high levels of pollution are forecast during the season. The rules exclude the Coachella Valley and the high desert, residential homes over 3,000 feet in elevation, low-income households, and homes where wood-burning is the only source of heat.
The lack of rain last season and the above average warm temperatures resulted in a record number of days without burning. 33 were expelled compared to eight days in the previous year, reported the AQMD on the south coast. You can register online at the district AirAlerts.org to receive an email notification that does not include burns on the designated days.
Build a better wood fire
On a typical day, you can still enjoy the warmth and ambience of your wood-burning fireplace. The South Coast Air Quality Management District has the following tips on its HealthyHearths.org website to help reduce pollution: start fires with softwood such as pine or fir; Always burn “seasoned” or dry wood. Have your chimney regularly cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep to remove creosote deposits. Never burn rubbish or other materials, and monitor the chimney for smoke (it should give off a small whiff of white vapor; the thicker and darker the smoke, the more harmful it is).