top of page

Frequently Asked Questions

Jump to a Topic

General Questions

Get answers to your most common fireplace queries. From installation tips to maintenance best practices, this section covers all your general fireplace concerns.

How do I clean my fireplace?

How often should I service my fireplace?

What is the best room for a fireplace?

What is a fireplace insert? 

Most fireplace inserts are designed to increase a fireplace’s efficiency. An insert is basically a fireproof box that’s surrounded by steel or cast iron and fronted by insulated glass, creating a closed combustion system. The steel or cast iron helps to trap the heat. Some inserts have a blower that pushes the hot air back into the room through front vents. Properly installed, fireplace inserts can be a much more efficient supplemental zone heater than a traditional fireplace.

Are fireplaces an efficient heat source? 

Each unit will vary in their efficiency rating, but for a vented unit you can expect 50-75% efficiency, and with vent free 99% efficiency.

How often should I have my fireplace serviced and cleaned? Is this something Southwest Brick and Fireplace offers? 

You should treat your fireplace similarly to how you treat your car – it’s important to operate it regularly to keep it running smoothly. Just like an annual tune-up, your fireplace will need annual maintenance and cleaning once a year. Southwest Brick and Fireplace offers this service, which includes us not only cleaning and prepping your fireplace for the winter, but ensuring everything is operating safely and correctly.

What is the difference between vented and vent-free log fireplaces? 

Vented logs require a fully functioning chimney to operate. The logs are often made of refractory cement and highly detailed, and the fire is full and reminiscent of a true wood-burning fire from an aesthetic standpoint. Vent-free logs provide a significant amount of heat and do not require a functioning chimney. However, the flame presentation is sparse and not as realistic.

What is the difference between an insert, logs, and a direct vent unit? 

A fireplace insert most commonly refers to a prefabricated steel box, which is installed inside of an existing masonry fireplace. These use flexible venting, which is ideal for narrower clay flue chimneys. Direct vent fireplaces are similar in that they are also a prefabricated steel box, however they are meant to go into new construction framing. These instead use a rigid steel venting, which cannot be safely installed into an existing masonry chimney. Gas logs are a free standing burner and log system, which can be installed in either masonry or prefabricated wood burning fireplaces, as an alternative to burning wood.

Can I add a blower to my fireplace? 

Depending on the model of your fireplace, a blower may or may not be an optional accessory. Only a few wood-burning fireplaces have the capability to add one, whereas a majority of direct vent gas fireplaces will either come with one or have it as an optional accessory. It’s important to remember that a blower is meant to supplement the heat output of your fireplace, not increase it.

Is it safe to put a television above my fireplace? 

Many fireplace manufacturers do offer solutions to make it safer, but remember that fireplaces do produce heat, and heat and electronics often don’t mix. If you plan to install a TV above your fireplace, make sure you have a mantel or shelf to help deflect heat, or opt to use a fireplace that offers cool wall kits, or similar technology, to keep the wall cool and your TV safe.

What is over-firing? How can I avoid this? What type of wood should I burn in my prefab fireplace?

Over-firing is when the fire is built inside a prefabricated steel box are too large and too hot. Often, as a result, the brick panels on the sides and back of the fireplace will begin to deteriorate and crumble. This is because they are not able to withstand the size of the fires being built and the heat output they are creating. To avoid this, always be sure to follow the instructions in your fireplace owner’s manual in regards to building a fire properly. Wood should always be dry and untreated when used for burning.


Why does/doesn’t my fireplace have glass? Do I have to have it/can I add it?

Fireplaces with fixed glass fronts are called Direct Vent and require the glass be affixed in order to operate. Wood burning fireplaces may or may not have operable glass doors, however they cannot be shut when burning wood or operating gas logs.

Why does my wood burning fireplace have so much cold air infiltration? What can I do? 

Wood burning fireplaces have two common sources for cold air infiltration: the damper and the fresh air intake. To alleviate this, always make sure the damper is fully shut after you finish burning your fires. Additionally, there are levers inside your fireplace to adjust the shutters on your fresh air intake, which you can adjust as needed.

What types of brick and stone does Southwest Brick and Fireplace carry?

For a sample of the materials we carry, visit our inventory pages for brick, thin-veneer stone, full-thickness stone, and fireplaces. For a full selection, please contact us for the most up-to-date information.


What is Southwest Brick and Fireplace's warranty? 

Installation and manufacturer warranties will vary by product. Please contact us for more information.

Gas Fireplaces

Discover the warmth and convenience of gas fireplaces, offering easy maintenance and a clean burn. Learn how to optimize your gas fireplace for efficiency and safety.

How do I safely light a gas fireplace?

Can a gas fireplace cause carbon monoxide poisoning?

Can I convert a wood burning fireplace to gas? 

If you are contemplating converting, consider your options. If you have a standard masonry-built wood-burning fireplace, you have three options:
1. Have a direct vent gas insert installed
2. Have unvented gas logs or a vent-free insert installed
3. Have vented gas logs installed

Can I use my fireplace when the electricity is out? 

If a gas fireplace runs on a millivolt ignition instead of electricity, it can be used without power in the home. Some gas fireplaces come with a backup battery system in case of power failure – consult the user guide and item specifications.

Can I use (Natural Gas or Liquid Propane) with this unit? 

Any gas fireplace will have the capability to operate with either natural gas or propane. It’s important to know which you are using before ordering your fireplace, as some models cannot be converted from one fuel source to the other

bottom of page