Should I install a see-through fireplace?

balanced flue gas fireplace

Three-sided see-through fireplace

A state of the art open see-through fireplace can provide contemporary fire enjoyment in any large space, between multiple rooms – or can even act as a room divider. Wherever it is built, a see-through can deliver a striking architectural statement, allowing fire viewing from both sides and perhaps the use of exotic facing materials, different on each side.

But, ‘open’ see-through fireplaces can also be troublesome, usually because the ratio of the effective area of the fireplace opening (which logically, will be much larger than the equivalent conventional fireplace) compared to the cross-sectional area of the chimney, may be out of kilter – allowing spillage of the products of combustion due to insufficient updraft. And other air-movement devices such as air conditioning or even a simple kitchen extractor can affect the safe operation of such a fireplace.

Essentially, it’s all about the chimney. Will it exhaust the gases safely at all times? A professionally installed chimney fan can often cure spillage, but this can be an expensive option.

The correct approach should be to listen carefully to a design or installation professional before purchase. An early site visit is essential, particularly if you want to utilise an existing chimney or flue. Starting ‘from scratch’ with no flue at all in a new or refurbishment project often offers a better chance of creating a safe open see-through fireplace chimney system and ensuring that it always operates correctly.

Sometimes, a see-through fireplace is open on all four sides, usually with a decorative canopy hung from the ceiling. These are often in very futuristic shapes.

Another up-to-date answer can be the ‘tunnel’ gas fireplace. Usually a balanced flue product, the tunnel fire will have glass on both sides and is usually room-sealed, that is, it will take air for combustion directly from outside of the house, via the concentric balanced flue.

These tunnel fires are sometimes also available with glass on three sides, allowing your architect interesting design options, such as building into a peninsula unit.

Any see-through fireplace, open, canopy or tunnel, will offer a stunning addition to your home. Just make sure it’s designed properly, allow a suitable budget and get experts to build it.

This is not a DIY project nor is it one to be tackled by the average house builder without expert assistance.

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About Urban Fires

Tony Young is a product designer and has more than 30 years of experience in the fireplace industry, amongst them the creation of several significant and innovative new decorative gas fire genres - from the Wonderfire AirFlame ceramic burner of 1984 (which remains in production at Dimplex), the award-winning 1988 Vermont Castings Intrepid gas stove, another UK award-winner the Galaxy Roxy, the Next Design Neon and Brilliant Fires Storm designs, plus multiple award-winners, the current Acquisitions X-FIRES flueless fires range. He writes for industry magazines.
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