beautiful clean-faced fireplace without louvers on stone feature wall

A fireplace without louvers creates a more simple, clean design.

What’s Happening

Customers often note the area above their fireplace gets very hot, and want to know whether this is normal and if it’s safe. It’s true – newer fireplace designs are eliminating the traditional louvers (the slats that help improve airflow) in favour of a cleaner look and bigger glass face. This creates a new dynamic where the flow of heat slows down around the fireplace – which means there is potential for it to feel hotter above the unit. It’s important to note though, that fireplace efficiencies are much greater than ever before, and with the removal of the louvers, you can see why this heat flow pattern is normal for many newer units.

A fireplace with louvers

A fireplace with louvers creates a more traditional and bold look.

Manufacturer Response

Fireplace manufacturers are very aware of the dynamics of heat flow around their units, and the industry has very high testing standards to ensure all designs can be safely enjoyed. When they create a product, they ensure their instructions are clear about how installation and maintenance must be done for it to be safe. This means that as long as the manufacturer’s instructions are followed, your fireplace will be safe.

Design and Installation Requirements

When shopping for a new fireplace, it is extremely important to speak with someone who understands the dynamics of newer fireplaces and knows the product manufacturer’s manual well in order to create a safe fireplace in your home. This includes not only the installation and ongoing maintenance of your fireplace, but the overall design and construction of the fireplace area – including integration with home builders or renovators as well as interior designers. For example, one of the common newer requirements is the use of non-combustible framing materials, and in some cases, surrounding finish work. Communication and knowledge among all parties are key to creating not just a beautiful fireplace, but a safe one as well.

If you have questions about an existing unit or want more information about your fireplace, contact a Hearth + Home fireplace specialist today.

– Jason Meyer