Friday, December 15th, 2017
Wood burning fireplaces produce heat that warms your soul. There is nothing that compares to the warm crackling fire, the smell of burning wood, and the comforting ambiance they create. And with Acucraft’s high-efficient fireplaces, you can practically eliminate your heating bill. But unless your fireplace is well taken care of, it may not perform to its potential. Acucraft’s wood fireplace expert, Mike Hannan, who has more than 20 years of experience installing and servicing wood fireplaces, gave us his tips on how to keep your wood burning fireplace happy and healthy for years to come.
Burning the Right Wood
The wood you use in your fireplace can greatly impact your fireplace’s output. Mike recommends using dry hard wood, he prefers Oak, with 18-22% moisture. (You can check your wood’s moisture with a wood moisture meter. Here are some of Mike’s picks from Amazon.) High moisture wood will not burn as well; it will drop the overall efficiency and heat output. To achieve quality dry wood, split your firewood to less than 6 inches in diameter and about 3 inches shorter than your firebox’s width or length. For example, if burning in our Hearthroom 36 model: the firebox is 34.5” wide and 18.5” deep. So, the firewood would need to be 31.5” long or less. After the firewood is split, Mike recommends storing it for at least 12 months. Be sure to store your wood in a wood shed or under a tarp; if using a tarp, remove the tarp during the warm summer months. If you don’t have the space to store your own firewood, there are many quality firewood suppliers throughout the nation. Don’t settle for less!
Ash is Important
We have been building wood fireplaces and burning wood for over 35 years and have tested hundreds of methods in order to create the ultimate wood-burning experience. Mike is a firm believer that ash in your fireplace is necessary in maintaining red, hot coals and a longer burn time. He recommends having a one-inch layer of ash at the bottom of your firebox, and placing your logs directly on the firebrick instead of using a grate. “Having the ash provides elevation needed for the logs to breathe and will insulate coals. Ash will slow the burning rate and will increase burn times. A fireplace grate can create too much elevation and can actually lower the temperature of the flames.” Mike advises that you will still need to occasionally clean the ash from your fireplace, but be sure to always leave some ash behind.
Outside Air Affect
Outside air temperature can play a large part in poor chimney drafting. If the outside air is over 45°, the fireplace may struggle to draft. Chimneys work off of temperature differentials; as a result, it won’t draft as well if temps are over 45° outside. Mike recommends having the combustion air inlet controls 100% open when it’s over that 45° temperature. During the colder months, close the controls to 50%. This will provide the perfect amount of airflow to your fireplace and can even keep your fireplace glass cleaner in the process. “You may need to play around with your controls as every chimney system will draft differently; you will need to discover what settings work best for your system.”
Wood Fireplace Maintenance & Cleaning
Although an Acucraft fireplace, if burning properly, will keep itself relatively clean; maintenance is required annually. Mike is adamant about having a flue inspection and cleaning done by a professional every year to ensure safety and remove any creosote buildup. The most common causes of creosote buildup are: burning soft, moist, or wet wood, and using newspaper as a firestarter. To avoid these causes, Mike advises you to use wax or sawdust firestarters; they work great with kindling. If you use your fireplace frequently, he also suggests using a creosote spray periodically. (Here are some of his recommendations on Amazon.)
When you love and care for your wood fireplace, it will love you back for a lifetime. It will keep you warm, create a calming yet alluring atmosphere, and save you money in the process.
Learn more about our energy efficient wood burning fireplaces; built for you. Call and ask for Mike Hannan for expert advice and recommendations on your next wood fireplace! (888) 317-6499
Tuesday, November 7th, 2017
Harrisburg Area Community College, located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1964 and typically enrolls around 18,000 students a year within a ten-county region. Students who attend any community college typically spend approximately 30 hours a week at the school either in lectures, eating lunch, or studying. Fortunately for the students at HACC, their school received a grant and made the decision to upgrade their common space into a comfortable, inviting and invigorating environment for their students. The Bruce E. Cooper Center in HACC was unveiled August 27th, 2017 after an extensive renovation. Among many of the luxury upgrades lies an incredibly unique Acucraft custom commercial fireplace that was designed and crafted to inspire learning and contemplation in students.
Custom Commercial Fireplace Design
The preliminary designs started off as simple yet ambitious. We had been given designs for the largest peninsula with tiered burners we had ever attempted. Working closely with the architects Murray and Associates, our designers were able to come up with 3-D model designs, a full submittal, and fulfil all design elements.
Original Design by Murray & Associates
Custom Commercial Fireplace Craftsmanship and Testing
When creating a custom fireplace, there are many things our craftsmen have to account for. The complex component of this fireplace was creating equal and adequate combustion air under each individual fire. With testing and perseverance, Acucraft’s talented design and fabrication team were able to create the fireplace this school deserves while allowing the fireplace to operate safely and properly!
Part of Acucraft’s extensive testing process (Photo 1 – tape is placed on glass) (Photo 2 – after fireplace is lit, tape is tested for heat)
The Final Custom Commercial Fireplace
With the project finally complete, HACC, Murray and Associates, and we at Acucraft are all proud to provide hard-working students with a relaxing and motivational space to eat, socialize and research. It is our hope that the students will prosper in this environment and will go on to do great things. When looking back on the finished project, we think of HACC’s core values: Integrity, Collegiality, Excellence, and Trust. Thank you for allowing Acucraft to work on your project; we wish only success for HACC and its students!
Photo credit: Sean Simmers
Friday, October 13th, 2017
Acucraft first started designing and building see through fireplaces in the 1980’s. Double sided fireplaces have been one of our most sought-after models. In fact, one third of all of our orders are see-through fireplaces!
People who enjoy fireplaces are fascinated by our see through models because they are beautiful, efficient, and can deliver 2 fireplace views! At Acucraft, we are not only (still) fascinated with them, but we also get a thrill out of designing them to our customer’s specifications, creating them ourselves, and delivering them directly to the desired location. Here are some of our favorite double sided fireplaces that we have created over the years.
1. Eduardo was building his own custom home and asked us to create a one-of-a-kind fireplace that would go between his Great Room and Dining Room. It turned out beautiful!
“It’s the best investment we did in our new construction home… Everyone loves it!” – Eduardo
2. The Hermitage Club custom wood burning fireplace was a big moment for Acucraft. The Hermitage Club was looking for a large, 4-sided, wood burning fireplace. And we delivered… The biggest see through fireplace we have ever created! After completion, the viewing window from door-to-door was 12 feet high and 12 feet wide! It needed to be dropped in through the roof with a crane!
3. When Boyd Gaming approached us, they already had fireplaces in installed at their Kansas Star Casino. Unfortunately, their fireplaces were giving off too much heat for their guests and had barely any flame to show for it. We were happy to replace their fireplaces with ones that have Acucraft’s massive flame and are able to vent outdoors so everyone is comfortable.
4. This particular customer was really excited to have an exposed flue. We thought it was a fabulous idea! They also loved the idea of a double sided fireplace providing views from the living room and the dining room. It turned out wonderfully, we love the exposed flue!
5. Matt wanted to create a large, see through, wood-burning fireplace that could be enjoyed in multiple rooms. He was also seeking a fireplace that would create comfortable heat and have a rustic look to match his d√©cor. We were pleased to know that we were able to bring another customer’s idea to life!
6. Smart home technology, breathtaking views, Italian marble, French limestone, and NanaWall retractable glass walls are only a few of the extraordinary features of this modern contemporary hideaway in the Haven Hill neighborhood of Tiburon, CA. They also wanted a see through Acucraft fireplace from the master bedroom into the bathroom to accompany all the amazing features of this home! They loved their new fireplace so much they preceded to order a custom gas, 4-sided fireplace as well!
7. We recently had the chance to give back by sitting down with five sophomores from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. What the students didn’t realize was that Acucraft actually built a fireplace for the University of Minnesota Rec Center! They had even seen the fireplace in person during a tour of our facility and were excited to know that one of our products had made its way into the University.
8. Davidoff Cigar Lounge was looking for a fireplace with lazy, relaxing flames that could be seen throughout the space because, after all, you can’t have cigars without fire! This gorgeous fireplace really completed the room and added desired ambiance to the space.
9. We received rough sketches from Klai Juba Architects for a double sided fireplace that would be placed outdoors of a casino. Although it appeared to be a fairly simple project, the location of the fireplace required the flue to be vented under the floor. Acucraft was able to make this work and the fireplace fulfilled the vision cast by the designers and architects, adding to the overall experience in the casino and steakhouse.
10. Melzer, Deckert + Ruder, Architects, Inc. came to us looking for a unique focal point for the entry lobby at the Palomar Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. The architects came up with an exceptional design, something that Acucraft had never worked with before. This was one of our most unique designs and is now one of our favorites!
Anyone can see that see through fireplaces are amazing! Although these are our favorites, these are just some of the fireplaces we have created and designed specifically for our customers. Check our galleries for more inspiration for your next fireplace project!
Friday, September 29th, 2017
Matt Parisi was searching for the perfect fireplace to heat his home and create the ultimate focal point. He quickly realized that most local fireplace retailers sold small, standard models that were stored in inventory; they simply wouldn’t be able to achieve his dream fireplace.
“I stumbled upon Acucraft and immediately thought that it would be difficult to buy a fireplace online.” But after speaking to his fireplace adviser, Matt was confident that we would listen and understand his wants and needs; creating a zero clearance wood burning fireplace to his precise specifications. Matt’s fireplace adviser sent him many options and spec sheets, and explained them thoroughly. Once he gave his approval, we got to work!
Pictured: Hearthroom 36 See-Through Wood Burning Fireplace With Acucraft’s Ray & After Install
Matt wanted to create a large, see-through, zero clearance wood burning fireplace that could be enjoyed in multiple rooms. He was also seeking a fireplace that would create comfortable heat and have a rustic look to match his d√©cor. We recommended our Hearthroom series as it is one of our most popular zero clearance wood burning fireplaces, has a traditional feel, and direct heat output. He ultimately decided on the Hearthroom 36 See-Through model. Great choice!
A gorgeous fireplace that will be enjoyed for many years to come! After using his new fireplace for the first time, Parisi said, “I love it. It heats up most of my home, it is a main focal point in my house, and the (patina) finish and metal work on the face is stunning.” We at Acucraft are pleased to know that we were able to bring another customer’s idea to life, on time, and just how they imagined it! “I would highly recommend and if I move or have any future fireplace needs I will certainly favor Acucraft.”
Thank you, Matt, for working with us. And for these wonderful photos of your custom-made fireplace!
Are you ready to start your journey to a new, custom-made fireplace?
Or give us a call if you have a vision in mind! (888) 317-6499
Thursday, August 24th, 2017
Choosing the right fireplace for your space.
Custom gas fireplace popularity has grown substantially over the past 10 years, in both residential and commercial spaces. The innovations and improvements to fireplaces in general over the past decade have made them even more versatile and safe; but can leave you wondering which one is best for your space: gas vs wood fireplace?
So how do you know if a gas fireplace or a wood burning fireplace is better suited for your needs? Let’s review some details that can help guide your decision.
The first thing you should decide upon is whether you’re looking for something you can enjoy at the flick of a switch, or if you’re looking for something that can generate heat but requires more attention. In theory, you should be able to determine whether you’re a wood or gas fireplace person pretty quickly. Here’s a high level overview of gas vs. wood:
-Ease of use (flip of a switch and you’re burning)
-Cost of fuel
-Less maintenance/cleaning required
-More modern aesthetic
-Fire needs to be created + sustained
-Nearly endless supply of fuel
-More maintenance to the fireplace and flue system required
-Traditional aesthetic including the snap + crackle of a wood fire
If the rich smell of wood, dancing yellow flames, crackling sounds, and the cozy warmth are what appeals to you most, then a more traditional wood burning fireplace would be perfect for you. Now, there are a few key facts you must keep in mind when burning wood! First and foremost, maintaining a clean chimney (flue system) is imperative for wood fireplaces! Let’s review the stages of fire so you can become a wood burning expert:
- Stage 1: The Start Up Stage. Unfortunately you can’t just throw a pile of wood in your fireplace and toss in a match to create a roaring fire…that would be nice wouldn’t it? The start up stage involves preparing and warming your fireplace and flue and creating a draw to start the combustion air pull. We recommend using dry kindling and a fire starter to warm up the fireplace and flue; a common misconception is to use newspaper as kindling, this is a no-no! Burning newspaper can cause an increase in creosote build up in your flue system according to many chimney sweeps, and over time could lead to a chimney fire.
- Only use Dry, Seasoned Wood. The key to a optimal fire is using the right kind of wood; you should never use wet (green) wood when starting a fire, to burn with the most heat and produce the least amount of creosote the wood should be allowed to season (dry out). Softer woods like fir or pine need to season for over a year whereas hardwoods like hickory and oak take much longer. Seasoned softwoods will catch fire quickly and burn very hot and fast producing minimal creosote; hardwoods are much heavier and dense which can be harder to get burning but will end up burning low and long once they catch.
- Stage 2: Creosote Stage. Once you have warmed your fireplace and flue, add your dry wood on top of the burning kindling. You always want to ensure the smoke and heat are flowing up and out the flue. During this phase the wood temperature will rise evaporating all the moisture from the wood when it reaches 100-141 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll tend to notice a hissing sound coming from the burning wood and a slight bubbling along the ends; keep your damper and combustion controls open all the way during this stage until the wood is burning cleanly without gray smoke.
- Stage 3: Heating Stage. This stage begins once the moisture has been removed from your wood and your combustion controls are dialed in creating the perfect pull through your chimney system. At this point the flames become much slower moving and tend to be more orange in color proving maximum heat output and minimal creosote production; this stage can be maintained for 6-10 hours between loads of wood (depending on type of wood and fireplace being used).
- Stage 4: Die Down Stage. Properly letting your fire die down is incredibly important. The best way to let your fire go out in your fireplace is to fully open your damper; your flue will begin cooling down as cold air is pulled through the top, once the cold air meets the slow moving smoke creosote will occur, allowing your fire to properly put itself out.
Now that you’re an expert at wood burning, lets talk about size. Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to wood burning fireplaces; finding the right unit for you is what our Fireplace Advisors do best. Whether you’re looking for something more aesthetically pleasing like our rustic Hearthroom Series or a modern feel with our Unity Series, or maybe you are more interested in having a fireplace for supplemental heat, like our Zmax; no matter the project our Fireplace Advisors will help find the right solution for you! Click here for more information.
If you love the ease of flipping a switch and enjoying your fireplace without much work or maintenance then a custom gas fireplace is the perfect fit for you! The design options are endless and our Fireplace Designers work one-on-one with you to make your dream fireplace a reality. Let’s review some of the options for designing your fireplace.
- Phase 1: Selecting Your Style. Choose from popular options like four-sided, linear with front right or left view, linear with front and side views, peninsula, see-through, circular, single-sided, indoor/outdoor, or custom design a creation all your own.
- Phase 2: Selecting Your Burner. From linear line of fire, logsets, square, circular, step, or anything in between. We’ll custom design and manufacture the burner that is perfect for your style fireplace.
- Phase 3: Selecting Your Frame. Most of our custom gas fireplaces are finished with a standard black matte finish, but we offer additional finishes like: patina, custom paint, hammered, stainless steel with a mirror finish, brushed stainless steel, or even a hidden frame.
- Phase 4: Selecting Your Glass. For most commercial settings our Dual Pane Glass Cooling system is required for safety reasons; but if you’re not worried about someone touching the fireplace you can choose open (no glass), partial glass, single-pane, custom firescreen or our Air Shield system.
- Phase 5: Selecting Your Finishing Options. The options for customizing your gas fireplace are abundant; choose from an array of glass media options in various colors and sizes, river rock, lava rock, polished stones, or a combination of media. Want to make the most of your fireplace flame? Our custom black reflective high temperature glass panels reflect the flame perfectly creating an even more impressive flame. Or maybe you want to finish the inside of your fireplace with tile, in that case we can add a mesh backer to any custom gas fireplace. Still want more? Control your fireplace with the click of a button by adding our remote controlled adjustable flame system allowing you a flame from 4″ to 12″, we’ll even add LED lighting if that tickles your fancy!
Ready to finally get that dream fireplace in the works? Click here for more information or talk with one of our expert Fireplace Advisors today: (888)317-6499