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Annual Maintentance

The end of 2010 is rapidly approaching, and as we prepare to begin another journey around the sun I’d like to give you a few annual maintenance tips that will ensure a safe and warm holiday season and a properly working fireplace for the new year.

We recommend scheduling your annual maintenance with a qualified technician from your local Lopi dealer, but many of these tasks can be performed yourself. Be sure to refer to your Owner’s Manual as more detailed instructions about daily and annual maintenance may be found there. Make sure the appliance is completely cooled prior to conducting service.  If any problems are found contact your local dealer to schedule an appointment.

GAS APPLIANCE OWNERS…

  1. Clean the glass with a soft cloth and fireplace glass cleaner.  Inspect the gasket around the glass; make sure it forms an airtight seal against the face of the firebox.
  2. Clean the log set with a damp cloth to remove soot and dust.
  3. Clean the air channels, ducts, and blower (if applicable.)
  4. Check the burner, pilot, and interior firebox for cracks, warping, or damage.
  5. Inspect the gas control valve and gas lines for cracks or wear.  Make sure all the connections are tight.
  6. Replace the Power Backup batteries.
  7. Check the vents for blockage, as they tend to be inviting spots for birds, spiders and insects to build nests.  Remove all debris and vegetation from the vent termination. If you have a chimney be sure to have it cleaned by a certified chimney sweep.
  8. Light the pilot and turn the fireplace on to inspect the flames.
  9. Last but not least, test your carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries if needed.

WOOD APPLIANCE OWNERS…

  1. Vacuum the air duct and blower (if applicable.)
  2. Inspect the firebrick and baffle.  Make sure the bricks are intact and have no gaps between them.
  3. Check the secondary air tubes for severe deterioration. Confirm the pushpins hold the air tubes in place.
  4. Check the door gasket; it should form an airtight seal with the front of the firebox.
  5. Clean the glass and inspect it for cracks.  The glass gasket should also form a tight seal against the door.
  6. Examine the chimney for creosote build-up (this is what causes chimney fires.)  Have it cleaned by a certified chimney sweep. Remove all debris and vegetation from the vent termination.

PELLET APPLIANCE OWNERS…

  1. Inspect the exhaust venting system for fly ash and soot.  Clean if necessary.
  2. Clean the exhaust and convection blower.
  3. Examine the chimney for creosote build-up (this is what causes chimney fires.)  Be sure to have it cleaned by a certified chimney sweep.  Remove all debris and vegetation from the vent termination.
  4. Check for air leaks around the door, glass, and ash pan.  Replace the gaskets if necessary.  Clean the glass with fireplace glass cleaner.
  5. Clean the pellet logs with a damp cloth to remove dust and soot (if applicable.)

With proper care and attention your Travis pellet stove will last you for generations to come.  Click below to view our Pellet Homeowner’s Video.

From all of us here at Lopi we wish you a joyous holiday season and a happy new year!

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Zone Heating

These days everywhere you go you hear the terms eco-friendly, green, energy-efficient, etc.  We all want to do our part to save the environment, and when it comes to heating your home “going green” also means putting more “green” back in your wallet.  It’s a win-win situation, and here’s one way of doing it – Zone Heating.  Zone heating is an excellent way to add a little more “green” to your home’s résumé, save some money on your heat bill, and once and for all end those family thermostat wars.  Allow me to explain….

The majority of homes in America use a forced air central heating system.  Now, regardless of the type (gas, propane, oil, electric, and so on) they all distribute air through a series of ductwork.  These ducts may be made of sheet metal or plastic flex and can be insulated or un-insulated. Some common disadvantages of this framework are leaky ducts, uneven heat distribution, and wasted energy going to ductwork in attics and crawl spaces.

An advantage of forced air central heating is that it efficiently works via a thermostat, but while I might favor a comfortable 68 degrees my significant other might continually (and quite subtly) raise it to a tropical 76.  Another major advantage of this system is that it quickly heats up the entire house.  However, I’m guessing you probably don’t spend the majority of your time in the laundry room, bathroom, or spare bedroom(s). So, why are you spending money heating those areas?

Zone heating offers a practical solution to these dilemmas by only heating the rooms in which you live.  This strategy may easily save you 30% or more on your energy bill as a result of the overall decrease in your fuel consumption.

You have many, many options for which type of hearth product to install, including fireplaces, freestanding stoves, or fireplace inserts that may burn a variety of fuels, such as firewood, pellets, corn, natural gas, or propane.  Lopi makes almost 40 different models to choose from, which can be overwhelming to say the least.  All of our wood and pellet models are energy-efficient and qualify for the $1,500 Tax Credit towards biomass burning appliances.  (Just a side note; this tax credit is only good for purchases made through December 31st, 2010, so if you’re considering a wood or pellet stove act fast.)  Our GreenSmart gas models are efficient, self-adapting, and offer an adjustable turn down rate to provide you with your ideal comfort zone. (Please read the article on GreenSmart to learn more…we’re quite proud of this technology.)  Some models also have optional heat ducts so you can vent heat into adjoining rooms.  Lopi’s electric fireplaces make a quick,  easy, and beautiful addition to any room requiring a low BTU space heater, and they make a great holiday gift…hint, hint.

A Lopi specialty retailer can guide you through the process of determining which product is right for you.  Be prepared to answer these questions:

  • What is the square footage of the zone you wish to heat?
  • What fuels are readily available in your area?
  • What is your design style?
  • What type of central heat do you have?
  • What is the age and construction of your house?
  • Is there available space to install a freestanding stove?

Just think, soon you could be sitting around the kitchen table on a chilly winter’s eve enjoying dinner by the warmth of your new gas (or wood or pellet) stove, and all the while your mind is at ease because you know your home is more efficient and that next heat bill is going to be a few dollars less.  And let’s be honest, you don’t miss the sound of that pesky furnace cycling on and off either.  Visit www.LopiStoves.com to find your local Zone Heating expert.

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Wood Fireplace Insert…a solution to your open masonry fireplace.

Are you considering having an open masonry fireplace built in your home? STOP! WAIT! Do some research or talk to someone about their love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with their open fireplace. (This article also applies to you…frustrated open fireplace owners.)  We’ve heard the complaints. The builders, contractors, and masons have heard the complaints. Don’t despair; we also have the solution.

A couple hundred years ago a traditional masonry fireplace was state-of-the-art design; function and beauty wrapped up in a neat little array of bricks and mortar. Today’s energy efficient homes are tightly constructed, well insulated around windows and doors, and have the latest in advanced heating equipment. Yet, the past is alluring, and many homeowners make the mistake of installing an open-hearth fireplace smack dab in the middle of tens of thousands of dollars worth of 21st century technology. Seems like a conflict of interest, right? They quickly discover that their quaint and traditional open fireplace is inefficient, filthy, smoky, requires an inconvenient amount of wood for the small amount of heat output, stinks, blows cold air into their house, and sets off the smoke alarm. Then they wonder why.

Air wants to flow to zones of lower pressure.

Most homes built today have the fireplace against an exterior wall on the ground floor.  Whether or not the chase is insulated in this position it’s likely that the outside cold air will decrease the temperature of the flue. Meanwhile, the air inside the house, which is warmer than the outside air, rises. So, the air pressure high in the house is slightly positive, which leaves the pressure on the ground floor slightly negative. When the temperature of the flue falls below the temperature of the bottom floor that cold air will get sucked into the home.

Modern homes also come equipped with powerful exhaust fans such as dryer vents, kitchen ranges, and negative pressure ventilation systems.  These fans will quickly depressurize a house…again causing air to flow down the chimney into the home.

Even the simple physics of operating an open fireplace in a home today just don’t add up.  Today’s homes can’t tolerate more than 200 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of expelled air without becoming depressurized.  An open-hearth fireplace will easily consume 200 – 600 cfm depending on the size of the fire.  So, here again, we have a positive outside air pressure combating a negative pressure home.

In all these examples we see what is called “back-drafting.”  The house is acting as a better chimney than the chimney itself.  It explains why there’s cold air emanating from the fireplace and why you get a face full of smoke when you go to light it.   Combustion also produces toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and methane.  You know where I’m going with this, right?   When your open fireplace is back drafting those toxic gases are being pumped right into your living space.  Excuse the sarcasm, but that’s probably not the healthiest stuff to be breathing in.

There are options though. Many wood fireplaces and inserts can be installed to look like a traditional masonry fireplace. Lopi manufactures highly efficient, EPA certified models. You don’t have to sacrifice design for functionality or vice versa. Our units have aesthetic appeal while delivering an impressive heat output to your home.  The Freedom Insert shown in the photo below is the most efficient large insert on the market.  You can choose between a flush mount installation or extend it on to the hearth to take advantage of the cooktop surface.  The unit features a built-in convection chamber that circulates and distributes warm air throughout your home, and a bypass damper for smokeless startup and reloading.  Click on the photo to review Lopi’s entire line-up of energy efficient wood inserts.

Your 21st century home deserves a 21st century fireplace. Do the research. Choose the wood fireplace or insert that’s right for you and make sure to have it installed by a certified specialty hearth retailer.  Visit www.lopistoves.com to find a dealer near you and to learn more about our wood fireplaces.

To learn more about heating with wood go to www.woodheat.org.

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What’s all they hype about GreenSmart?

“GreenSmart” refers to an innovative system we’ve developed and integrated into our gas fireplaces, stoves and inserts.  Basically, it’s a collection of components that are designed to provide a highly efficient source of heat while making your life as easy as possible.  Let’s take a closer look at how we’ve accomplished this by first defining each component as a unique aspect.

1.  Intermittent Pilot: A pilot light is just a simple name for the flame used to light the gas in a fireplace. When you turn your fireplace on that gas is lit by the pilot light and then emitted through the ports in the burner creating that desirable and realistic wood-like fire that we all love. In the past, gas models have used what we call a standing pilot light, meaning that the small pilot flame is continuously on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You’re probably thinking to yourself, ‘Since I don’t run my fireplace 24/7 year round, isn’t this a waste of energy?’ The answer is yes, absolutely.  A standing pilot wastes .552 therms (a unit of heat) each day.  One therm of gas costs $1.10.  This means the unit costs $0.61 to run every day, even when you’re not using it.  That’s $222 of wasted energy each year. So, we decided to get “Smart” by using an intermittent pilot system instead. This system does exactly what the name suggests, turns the pilot light on and off intermittently. The best part is, you have all the control.  When the fireplace is turned on a high voltage spark ignites the pilot light.  When the fireplace is turned off, the pilot light turns off as well.  It’s as simple as that.  All our GreenSmart models come standard with an Intermittent Pilot Ignition system, as well as the option for a standing pilot with just the flip of a switch.

2. Split-Flow Burner with Comfort Control™: The burner that comes in your gas fireplace has tiny holes in it, called burner ports, which release ignited gas and produce dancing yellow flames.  In all of our GreenSmart models those ports are separated into a front and rear section. We’ve done this so that you can turn the rear portion of the burner off, while leaving the flames in front burning.  This is the Comfort Control™ feature. It’s what allows us to achieve such high turndown ratios and what allows you to use your fireplace year round.

3. Battery Back-up: This is a very important feature when deciding whether or not to buy a gas fireplace.  You need to be able to heat your home in the event of a power outage, and our battery back-up allows you to do this by supplying the energy required to ignite the pilot as well as run the Comfort Control feature.

4. Flame Height Adjustment: There’s a small knob on the control panel of the fireplace that allows you to customize your flame height.  Yes, this does tie in to the GreenSmart system and we’ll get into that when going over the GreenSmart Remote. However, and perhaps more importantly, this element allows you to personalize the look of the fire to your tastes or mood.  With the flip of a switch a fire can completely change the feel of a room.  It can add merriness to a party, coziness to a small gathering, or romance to an intimate dinner.

5. Convection Blower: A blower, or fan, is basically a way to increase the heat transfer from the fireplace into your home.  By using the blower you also greatly increase the efficiency of the fireplace and reduce your heating costs.

Whew! We’ve covered the integral parts of the GreenSmart technology except for one…the GreenSmart Remote Control.  This remote is almost like a little robot that adjusts the flame height to maintain whatever temperature in the room you decide. It really is a “Set It and Forget It” system.  All you have to do is set your desired temperature and the remote does the rest. This system allows you to conserve fuel by not overheating your room or cycling the fireplace on and off endlessly. By using the “Smart” function remote you’re operating your fireplace as efficiently as possible, which means you’re heating your home as efficiently as possible.

We’re not done yet.  All our GreenSmart models come standard with a few luxuries that we feel you deserve.

Accent Lights – These lights add a warm glow to the logs and fireback and are perfect as a soft nightlight when the fireplace is turned off.

Concealment Door – The control panel, valve and wires are all neatly hidden behind an elegantly designed concealment door that conveniently opens and closes for easy access to the controls.

Control Panel Lighting and High Visibility Dashboard – Once the concealment door is opened the entire dashboard is lit up by automatic LED lights.  This makes the high resolution silk-screened lettering on the controls easy to view even in a low light environment.

So, all the hype about GreenSmart is well founded.  Take some time to browse through our GreenSmart units on our website: www.lopistoves.com, then head down to your local Lopi showroom so they can show the magic in person.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

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