It is a truth universally acknowledged that indoor fireplaces must have vents. Whether the same can be said for an outdoor wood fireplace, however, is a subject that is often hotly debated among fireplace owners and enthusiasts. The simple answer to this question is that, although not necessary, a vent can be useful additions to outdoor wood fireplaces. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about vents and the benefits they bring to outdoor wood burning fireplaces.
Essential components of an outdoor fireplace
To better understand the benefits of venting your outdoor fireplace, it’s important to know how it is structured. Outdoor fireplaces have three components.
The ideal base for an outdoor fireplace is a reinforced concrete slab. The soil type, freeze/thaw conditions, and weight of the fireplace should all be taken into consideration while designing and building an outdoor fireplace base.
It’s necessary to build a strong concrete slab with numerous rebar or wire mesh reinforcements and footings that extend beyond the frost line in areas with damp soil or frequent freeze/thaw cycles. Since custom-built outdoor wood fireplaces are typically heavier than their prefab counterparts, a thicker and stronger slab is required for them.
If you have a new concrete base slab made, it needs to be at least 24 inches larger in the front, and at least 6 inches larger on the sides and back, than the fireplace. Have the integrity of the patio surface evaluated by an expert prior to having a fireplace built or installed. Find out the precise requirements for the base and footings for your outdoor fireplace project by speaking with landscape designers or fireplace experts.
The area of the fireplace known as the firebox hosts the fire. A custom-built steel outdoor fireplace or a firebox made for outdoor use are both options. The width of a firebox can vary from 30 to 50 inches. Fire bricks should line fireboxes for safety reasons. There are often a few firebrick patterns and colors available when ordering a fireplace. Before ordering a firebox, you must decide whether you intend to fuel your fireplace with wood or gas, as the specifications differ.
Chimney and Vents
A gas-fired fireplace only requires exhaust vents. A wood-burning outdoor fireplace, on the other hand, requires a smoke chamber that connects to a chimney with a spark arrester. To increase airflow in these fireplaces, vents or flue liners should be used. These can help your fire burn evenly, and minimize the impacts that forces of nature, such as wind, can have on it.
How does fireplace venting work?
Fresh air from the outside is taken into the hearth unit of a direct vent gas appliance, and discharged air is transferred outward via a flue system that terminates externally. The majority of direct vent gas fireplaces vent to the outside, albeit away from where you are sitting. They can also vent vertically through a chimney.
Does an outdoor wood fireplace have to be vented?
Vents can serve a useful purpose in an outdoor fireplace. To begin with, vents can enhance the draft and strengthen the fire. They can also prevent anyone seated nearby from breathing in too much smoke and prevent chimney fires.
Here are the benefits of venting your outdoor wood fireplace:
It reduces creosote
Burned wood fragments and dry vapors inside the chimney combine to make creosote. This tar-like substance can accumulate, creating a fire and health hazard. Venting can reduce the accumulation of creosote in your chimney.
It minimizes soot
Soot is another by-product of wood burning. Like creosote, it can be a fire hazard and have detrimental impacts on health, which is why it needs to be effectively managed. Having your fireplace fitted with a vent can increase air circulation and prevent the negative consequences of soot accumulation.
Is anything else required to manage outdoor wood fireplaces?
A smoke shelf is another feature that aids in regulating a fireplace's draw. Positioned above the firebox, it protects it from dirt and rainwater. Furthermore, it prevents wind from harming the flames.
What methods and technologies can you use to vent your outdoor fireplace?
There are several venting options, in terms of technology, that fireplace owners can avail of such as:
- Direct vent technology: With this approach, a sealed combustion system protects the surrounding air quality by pulling outside air towards the fire and completely venting combustion exhaust and its by-products back outside.
- B-vent or natural venting technology: This system is not sealed. Air is drawn into the combustion chamber from a separate area.
- Ventless or vent-free technology: This approach relies on a higher burn temperature, rather than actual physical venting to remove the byproducts of combustion from the air.
Is location important for my outdoor fireplace to properly vent?
For optimal venting, where you place your outdoor fireplace isn’t important. However, what is important is that you choose a location that enables your fireplace to function properly. After all, good venting is part of good function.
Towards this end, it is also important that you choose a fireplace of the right size, in relation to your property. In other words, your outdoor fireplace should fit your patio and the available area around it, especially if built-in seating will be placed around the fireplace. While a large fireplace may need a patio as large as 18 ft x 18 ft, a tiny fireplace will only need about 12 ft x 12 ft.
The reason the size of your outdoor space is important when choosing the best spot for your fireplace is because it will give you more flexibility in terms of venting function. From a venting point of view, an outdoor fireplace should also be placed in an area that is convenient to the house and other nearby buildings.
Shop for outdoor fireplaces and accessories
The ideal way to spend those unforgettable and apparently unending summer evenings is in front of an outdoor fire. Regardless of whether the fire comes from a free-standing gas or a wood stove, the experience can add a layer of richness to a relaxing evening.
All of the outdoor fireplaces that Feu Ardent sells are made in Quebec, have unique outdoor fireplace designs, and are sturdy. We also sell fireplace accessories such as a cast-iron grill and a charcoal holder to elevate your outdoor experience.