How to Tell if You Have an Insert or Fireplace

insert beside fireplace

Not sure whether you have an insert or fireplace in your home? Well, it’s important to find out definitively because it will affect how you use and maintain it. An insert is a smaller appliance that’s designed to be inserted into an existing fireplace. A fireplace is a standalone structure that’s built into a wall or as part of the home’s structure. To determine which one you have, read on.

Differences Between Inserts and Fireplaces

There are some key differences between an insert and a fireplace that will help you figure out which one you have. However, the first thing you should check for is the rate plate – a mandatory label included with every wood or gas appliance. It includes information like manufacturing, testing, certification and more. It should be in the control panel or the air channel.

If you can’t find it, use these other clues.

1. Size

An insert is generally smaller than a fireplace since it’s designed to fit inside an existing fireplace. If you see a large, standalone structure taking up an entire wall, it’s probably a fireplace.

2. Venting

Although it might be surprising, gas inserts use chimneys to vent the smoke vertically out of your house. Chimneys with a gas fireplace cap on top indicate that you have an insert. Remember that inserts fit inside existing fireplaces, so there would’ve been an existing chimney as well. 

Conversely, a vent or termination on the side of your house means you have a gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces use two types of venting technology – direct or natural. Both of these venting methods do not typically use chimneys and instead go directly outside of the house. 

4. Installation 

Fireplaces are usually built into a wall or the structure of your home. It’ll typically have a surround made of stone, brick or some other material. Inspect the edges of the unit; if there’s a backing plate, try to remove it if you can or look behind it. If you notice gaps, it’s likely an insert. If there are no gaps and the fireplace is built into the wall, it’s a fireplace. 

Team Harding Installs Both Fireplaces and Inserts 

Now that you should be able to determine whether you have an insert or fireplace, you should have it cleaned and inspected for safety purposes if you plan to use it. On the other hand, if you want to replace it or upgrade it, browse our selection of inserts and fireplaces here. We also offer custom fireplace design if you’re looking to redo the entire hearth and make something totally unique.

Find out more about fireplaces and inserts at Team Harding.

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Team Harding is Ottawa’s go-to destination for grills, fireplaces, and outdoor heat options. We’re stocked with the brands you know and love. 

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