Keeping your fire burning
The bellows is a popular fireplace accessory which helps to boost the combustion rate of your wood fireplace. It does this by forcing air out of an expandable bladder and blowing it into the flames. The most common design is triangular, with the air outlet at the point, facing the fire, and a handle at each of the other two corners used to expand and contract the air bladder to intake and expel air towards the fire. This accessory is not necessary for a gas hearth since the combustion level can very easily be controlled with a switch, button, or knob. However, in spite of this, the beautiful finishes and variety of woods, leathers, vinyls, and other materials which bellows are available in makes them an excellent decorative accessory even for the most modern high-efficiency gas fireplaces.
The selection of a bellows is much like the selection of any other fireplace accessory – you will want to look at a number of different models either online or in showrooms to determine whether or not the color, style and finish fit with your existing fireplace and the overall décor of the room in which it is located.
Since bellows are actually a very old piece of equipment, there are many antiques available. In past, bellows were made of wood and leather, however – which means that they did not always stand up to the passage of time the way that a well-made contemporary example might. If you are buying an antique bellows, be prepared to bring them to a leather worker in order to have damaged leather repaired or replaced either with new leather or with a modern synthetic replacement such as vinyl.
One of the most major concerns in selecting a bellows for your fireplace is simply the size of the bellows itself. Whether you plan to use them or not, you likely don't want to have a disproportionately large blacksmith's bellows hanging next to your small fireplace in your modestly-appointed home. So, ensure that you consider the size of the bellows relative to everything else in the room where your fireplace is located, so that your new antique bellows doesn't draw the eyes of visitors away from the fireplace which it accessorizes.