Gas fireplace the hot thing for winter

  • By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, November 14, 2012 3:53pm
  • LifeMukilteo

It’s instant gratification.

Flick a switch and hot, pretty flames erupt, sending the winter chill packing.

Gas fireplaces are the best invention since fire.

They have become a standard fixture in millions of homes, even though they don’t crackle and pop like their wood-burning ancestors.

At the Whittle family’s Mukilteo home, a chorus line of flames dance over glass stones on the living room wall.

Watching the gas fireplace is usually better than anything that’s on TV.

“It is the focal point of the room,” said Craig Whittle.

“We warm our bones in front of it,” said Lisa, his wife.

Fireplaces tend to get the cold shoulder half of the year.

“People don’t think of fireplaces until they’re cold,” said Jeff Henderson, store manager of Aqua Quip in Lynnwood. “Then there’s a flood of demand.”

It’s not too late to have a gas fireplace installed by Christmas. But if you delay too long it might be like trying to snag a Furby, the hot toy from Hasbro.

Expect to pay at least $4,000 for a gas fireplace package. Then kick back and enjoy a $200 rebate from Puget Sound Energy.

Fireplaces are eye candy, but these are also serious appliances.

The fronts get hot. Very hot.

Kids are especially vulnerable to being burned by touching the surface.

Mesh guards that attach to the front are an option for under $100. “It gives you a barrier between the glass and your fingers,” Henderson said.

Child-proof locks are available to put on switches.

There’s no crackle and pop, but the risk of fire is less than with burning logs.

Martha Augustson, a mantel designer since 1978 and owner of Martha’s Design Center in Everett, has embraced the shift from wood to gas.

“Gas has taken over the market because of the quality of heat, and it doesn’t have the waste and so on of wood,” she said. “Whatever appliance you have I can make the same mantel for either one. It’s a design piece.”

Her custom mantels start at $1,850.

She has this advice: “Simple can be gorgeous. But plain isn’t gorgeous.”

Of course, mantels aren’t mandatory.

The Whittles chose a sleek, stainless-steel frame for the wall-mounted fireplace installed in the remodel of their 1979 home three years ago, when the sooty wood stove got the boot.

The gas fireplace operates with a handheld remote.

“Whenever my friends come over they turn it on and go ooh-ahh,” said their daughter, Cadence, 16.

In front of the fire, the family dog, Meg, an exuberant retriever, expresses her satisfaction in another way.

By snoring.

Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com

Hot tips

Gas fireplaces are fairly easy to maintain. The hard part is choosing the style.

If fake logs aren’t your thing, there are river rocks and glass stones.

But whatever you pick, you could be stuck with it. You might not be able to change the logs to rocks, or the rocks to logs, without getting a new appliance.

You can, however, change the color on the metal fronts. The high-temperature stove pipe paint comes in about 70 colors.

If a cloudy white haze develops on the glass, try window cleaner. For stubborn build-ups use a specialty nonabrasive gel.

Vacuum to keep firebox free of dust, lint and soot.

Call a professional to inspect and service gaskets, seals and venting.

Always read the owner’s manual and follow instructions.

Resources

aquaquip.com.

Martha’s Design Center, marthasdesign.com.

For rebate information: -->

More in Life

‘Found’: Author and climber a 20-year veteran of mountain rescue

In her second book, Bree Loewen shares her experiences of volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue.

Secret garden: Privacy trees that won’t outgrow a small space

These plants offer some height to block out unwanted sights without taking over your yard.

Stock your winter bookshelf with these animal and nature reads

Four new books cover outdoors topics from butterflies to wolves.

The Shed Players recently released their new album “Our Shingle Most Favorites.”
Listen here: Josh Clauson, The Shed Players release new CDs

This feature is all about Snohomish County’s homegrown talent: locals who make music and record it.

Newfangled cooker isn’t for those with tried and true methods

Columnist Jennifer Bardsley recently succumbed to peer pressure and purchased an Instant Pot.

Now is the time to assess your student’s back-to-school plan

Take a good look at how your kids are managing their new routine, class, teacher(s) and homework.

Author’s talk of birds and clouds kicks off Marysville series

1. Birds and clouds Marysville’s Outdoor Adventure Speakers Series is kicking into… Continue reading

How to shop in the street markets of France

It’s the best way to connect with the nation’s farmers and artisans.

Oprah Winfrey joins ‘60 Minutes’ for 50th anniversary year

The media giant debuts on tonight’s show, reporting on a story about America’s political divisions.

Most Read