ABA Hearth & Home, Fireplaces, San Carlos, CA 
Remodeling and Home Design


What are your store hours?
Tuesday through Friday 10-6
Saturday 10-3
We are closed Sunday and Monday

Where are you located?
1494 Laurel Street
San Carlos, CA 94070
The cross street is White Oak Way.

What manufacturers do you carry?
American Fireglass
American Fyre Designs
Design Specialties
Dura Vent
Element 4
Portland Willamette
Robert Leeds
Sierra Flame
Stone Manufacturing
Ventech (Thermocrete) (SmokeTite)

Vermont Castings

Do you have your own installers or do you subcontract out your installations?
All of our installations are performed "in-house" by our on staff installers. Our installing technicians are trained for the installation of wood and gas hearth appliances, chimney sweeping and inspection, and flue relining and restoration. We also employ a trained and certified mason for masonry construction and repairs.

With the new regulations, can I still burn wood?
Yes. The new regulations pertaining to wood burning do not prohibit wood burning completely. Residents in the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) can use their wood burning fireplaces any day unless a Spare the Air Day is called. Residents are responsible for checking to see if it is a Spare the Air Day before they burn wood or solid fuel. Go to www.sparetheair.org for more information on Regulation 6, Rule 3 and options for receiving automatic alerts.

Can I still install a wood burning fireplace?
Yes. What type of wood burning fireplace you can install will depend on your city’s local building code. Most cities are only allowing EPA Phase II compliant fireplaces to be installed, however some still allow open wood burning fireplaces to be included in a remodel or new construction.

How often should my chimney be swept?
This a tougher question than it sounds. The simple answer is:

The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary." This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don't use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be cleaned at 1/8" of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. Factory-built fireplaces should be cleaned when any appreciable buildup occurs. This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home.

What is the difference between an insert and a zero-clearance fireplace or pre-fabricated fireplace?
A fireplace insert, whether it is gas, pellet, or wood must be installed into a structurally sound chimney with an existing flue system. A fireplace insert is designed to fit into the existing chimney system and uses it to insulate heat from transferring to the surrounding combustible materials. The addition of a liner system, appropriate to the insert, is required to pass through the existing flue. A fireplace insert cannot be installed into a wood framed wall or any other scenario other than an existing chimney and fireplace system.

Zero-clearance fireplaces can be installed into a wall cavity with combustible materials, such as framing, in close proximity where an insert cannot. Many contractors, architects and designers refer to zero-clearance fireplaces as inserts but there are important differences in the way zero-clearance fireplaces are constructed that distinguish them from inserts. The additional insulation and air space that surrounds the firebox in a zero-clearance fireplace is what allows them to be installed near combustible materials. Zero-clearance fireplaces have their own vent system with close clearances to combustibles as well.

My chimney is damaged. Can I just install gas logs?
In short, the answer is no. The manufacturer of the gas logs as well as California Building code and the International Residential Code (IRC) code it is based on require that a chimney be “code compliant” to install gas logs. This means that whether you are burning wood, gas or even DuraFlame logs, the chimney must be free from defects and suitable for containing combustion bi-products.

What is a direct-vent gas fireplace and how is it different from a B-vent gas fireplace?
A direct vent gas fireplace is a fireplace listed for use with a special venting system that draws all the air used in combustion from outside the building envelope. These direct-vent systems come in collinear (side-by-side) and coaxial (one inside the other) configurations. Because the flow of exhaust bi-products out of the system stimulates the intake of combustion air from outside, these systems are often referred to as balanced flue systems. Direct-vent fireplaces have tightly sealed glass windows on their fronts which are integral to maintaining the vacuum seal necessary to vent in this fashion. This specialized venting system affords more flexibility as it allows the vent to be installed horizontally and exit on the side of a building below the roofline. Direct-vent fireplaces are more energy efficient than their B-vent counterparts.

A B-vent gas fireplace works much in the same way that a traditional wood-burning fireplace does. It draws the air used for combustion from inside the home and exhausts it out a single flue. B-vent fireplaces have lower efficiencies than direct-vent fireplaces because they take air that has already been warmed in the home and draw it into the fireplace and out the flue. B-vent systems also have less flexibility in venting because they rely heavily on the draft of the system to vent the exhaust bi-products. B-vent systems must always vent above the roofline.

What is a vent-free fireplace?
Vent free fireplaces are fireplaces that burn gas at high enough efficiencies that the remaining exhaust bi-products are considered negligible enough to be exhausted into the living space. There are serious air quality concerns with this type of system over time. The State of California does not allow the sale or installation of vent-free gas fireplaces for indoor applications.

Do I need glass doors on my fireplace?
If you home was built after 1984 the answer is yes. In 1984, California adopted Title 24 Energy Code that states, “If a masonry or factory-built fireplace is installed, it shall have the following: A closable metal or glass doors covering the entire opening of the firebox”. Homes built prior to 1984 are not required to install glass doors because they are grandfathered in. In some situations like remodels or upgrades to your fireplace, certain municipalities will require the addition of glass doors even if your home was built after 1984.

Adding glass doors can be a way to enhance the appearance of the fireplace while also gaining higher energy efficiency in the home. Glass doors also act as a damper in the absence of one or in gas logs installations where the damper is required to be locked open.

Do I need a fan on my fireplace or insert to get efficient heat?
This is one of the most common misconceptions about fireplaces, inserts, and stoves. You should not think of your gas or wood hearth heater as you do your central furnace. Fireplaces inserts and stoves are considered radiant room heaters. The majority of the heat that comes from a fireplace or stove is released in the form of infrared light, not hot air blown into multiple rooms.

For most fireplaces, inserts, and stoves a fan is not required because approximately 85% of the heat is delivered in the form of radiant light that warms the solid objects in the room. In situations where a large hearth heater is used to heat a large space, a fan may help get the heat further but it will not increase the efficiency of the appliance. The “room” part of radiant room heaters should also be considered when looking at adding a fan. Radiant fireplaces, stoves, and inserts are heaters that are designed to heat individual or multiple rooms but will not be capable of heating most homes in their entirety, even with a fan.
© 2016 ABA Hearth & Home