Have you got a fireplace in your living room, but you dislike the time and hassle of burning wood? All that soot, ash and smoke – not only is it messy, but it also poses a potential health risk. Wood smoke carries particles and gases that can pose a serious health threat, especially to anyone with respiratory illnesses like allergies and asthma.

Many homeowners these days are discovering that electric fireplaces are a safe, clean and convenient alternative to wood fires. Modern electric fires use patented technology to create realistic flames, enhancing the ambiance of your living space while acting as a powerful supplemental heat source. With an electric fireplace, you can control the size of the flame and the heat output with a simple push of a button – no more constant fire tending and inconsistent performance. And electric fireplaces can even be cheaper to use (depending on local electricity rates) with no need to purchase wood to fuel your fire throughout the winter.

Electric fireplace inserts are designed to fit into an existing fireplace in your home. You can install one yourself, quickly and easily. Just follow these steps:

  1. Read the instruction manual that came with your product. Though most of the installations steps will be the same regardless of model, there might be particular specifications you need to familiarize yourself with.
  2. Close the chimney damper. This will prevent drafts and keep the heat from your electric fireplace from seeping outdoors. For extra protection, you can install fiber-free insulation around the interior of the firebox.
  3. Take out the grate and thoroughly clean the firebox. Get rid of all that soot and ash.
  4. Check to make sure that the nearest outlet matches the electrical requirements for your fireplace insert. Most commercial models require 120v/15 amps/60 Hz connections. You should plug your electric fireplace into a dedicated circuit, and if you have to use an extension cord make sure it has the proper rating.
  5. Unpack the fireplace and remove any packing materials from inside the unit.
  6. If the fireplace has a glass front, carefully slide it into place according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure it is secure before proceeding.
  7. Insert the unit into the fireplace opening, tilting it slightly if necessary. It should rest evenly on the bottom of the firebox.
  8. Pull the cord under or around the insert and across the hearth, making sure it doesn’t get pinched or rub against any sharp edges that might damage it. Plug it in.

If you dislike the look of a cord across the hearth, a licensed electrician can either install an outlet inside your fireplace or hardwire the unit into your home electricity. Keep in mind that either option will permanently disable your fireplace for burning wood!

If you like the idea of an electric fireplace, but you don’t have a built-in fireplace in your home, then look for a self-contained unit that includes a decorative mantel and can be placed against any available wall. There are even media consoles available that allow you to enjoy your fireplace and television at the same time. Electric fireplaces are a great, economical way to add comfort and ambiance to your home.

Rae Eriksen is a writer who specializes in home improvement and energy efficiency for http://www.heater-home.com

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