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The cities in the Los Angeles area are enforcing some rules and regulations from the EPA and the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) that result in the circumstance that no wood burning fireplaces can be installed or constructed in the Los Angeles area any more. (At least until the EPA test and approves some new types of fireplace systems that will allow the burning of wood with very low emissions of “particulates,” (soot) into the air.)The only types currently be approved for new or replacement installations is a gas-only “direct vent” prefab fireplace.

The term “direct vent” describes a system of vent pipes where the outside air is pulled into the fireplace through one opening and the combustion gases are expelled out through another opening. They have a sealed glass front.

The combination of the sealed glass front and the vent pipes that pull the fresh air into the fireplace directly from outside the house means that there is no air interchange with the interior of the house. This often beneficial for people with allergies or asthma, very young people, or older folks. That is, there are no particulates or smoke or gases coming out of the fireplace into the room. These types of fireplaces typically are installed with a wall switch that turns them on and off. They can also (often) be installed with an optional remote control system. They can (often) be installed with a fan that circulates room air around the metal firebox, where it gets heated, and back into the room, so that the fireplace functions like a heater. It will put more heat into the house, compared to a regular open fireplace.

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