While a fireplace might not be the greatest, most efficient way to heat your home, it does add something quintessentially homey to any room. The fireplace is symbolically a place of tradition, a place to gather the family, and a place of both literal and figurative warmth. Many homes don’t have a fireplace, but it’s possible to add one to your home.
Choosing a Location
If you want to get the most use out of your fireplace, plan to put the new fireplace in the most-used room in the house other than the kitchen, such as the family room or living room. For heating practicality, it makes sense to put it in a smaller, easy-to-heat room such as a master bedroom, office, or spare bedroom. No matter which room you decide on, make sure its floor joists are reinforced. You should also factor in the dimensions and thickness of the firebox, the size of the damper opening, and the type of chimney and liner used.
Planning the Space
The location of your new fireplace will affect the complexity and cost of the job and you’ll need to plan the space accordingly. Gas fireplaces, because of simpler venting needs, can be placed in many areas within a home that wouldn’t work for wood fireplaces. Smaller gas units are ideal for kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. A wood fireplace typically will go against a main outside wall so that a proper chimney can be constructed. Talk with your contractor or installer to understand the placement options that would be best in your specific home.
Type of Fireplace
There are several different types of fireplaces and you’ll need to decide which one you want. For the easiest installation, choose a direct-vent gas fireplace. You can install this type of fireplace on any exterior wall, and it will vent directly out the back. If you want to add a wood-burning fireplace , you need space above to get a chimney through the roof. In two-story houses, choices for placing the fireplace might be more limited. This is the kind of fireplace that comes to mind for most people and it’s the most expensive. If you’re looking for an inexpensive fireplace option, consider a zero-clearance or factory-built fireplace. These are lightweight fireplaces often with linear designs to fit more modern tastes.
You’ll need to consider the cost before you add a fireplace. Costs for materials and labor to add a new fireplace can run up to several hundred dollars. As you’re considering costs of adding a fireplace, also factor in on-going expenses, namely for fuel and maintenance. A wood burning fireplace which features doors with air-sealing gaskets to regulate how much indoor air it uses for combustion, therefore saving energy and reducing emissions, may cost upwards of $4,000 per unit. The lower end of the cost spectrum is the ventless gas fireplaces, and those powered by electricity. Expect to spend about $400, plus another $1,000 to have a professional install and finish those that require a dedicated gas or propane line.
Building and Zoning Considerations
As you plan for your new fireplace , it’s important that you understand the building codes in your area and any restrictions or specifications that would apply to your project. This will help you to avoid any potential fees that might be added to the cost or other potential disasters. Codes are put in place for a reason. Some counties and municipalities regulate the allowable emissions levels a home-heating appliance may produce. If you’re going with a wood fireplace, the height and design of the chimney may be regulated in some areas. Building codes can also radically affect installation and build-out costs. They dictate things like chimney height, emissions, and several construction details. You can make sure you comply with these and other codes by working with a qualified local contractor or installer who knows the regulations in your area.
Optimizing Your Fireplace
If you understand what makes a fireplace efficient in the first place, you can make sure you enjoy all the benefits of having an efficient unit from the beginning. There is nothing as romantic, nor as fuel-inefficient than a big, open, wood-burning hearth. And on the flip side, there are few heating sources as fuel efficient as sealed natural gas fireplaces. You’ll want to consider several factors before you make a choice between the various fuel options and what they require.
Mantle or No Mantle?
A mantel, also known as a fireplace mantel or mantelpiece, frames the opening of a fireplace and often covers part of the chimney breast. There are a variety of benefits that come with having a fireplace mantel. Adding in a custom mantle and surround will significantly overhaul the look and feel of the room in which you install it. The mantel doesn’t just provide aesthetic benefits—it also adds some protection to the wall around the fireplace while it’s being used. Another aesthetic element of a mantel is that it makes for an ideal location to store some of your favorite possessions, including various keepsakes, art pieces, sculptures and knickknacks. While you might not use your fireplace during all four seasons, you can still use the mantel to create seasonal, versatile types of decoration in your home. A mantel might not be for everyone, but it’s definitely beneficial to have.
Fireplaces can offer you further financial benefits by decreasing your energy bill . Your fireplace contributes to the overall heating of your home, and, when placed strategically, can help save you money. Although purchasing and installing a fireplace insert can cost up to $4,000, you will make up for the cost quickly in utility bill savings. With the addition of a fireplace insert, you can reduce your heating costs by as much as 40 percent.
A fireplace is an investment that offers a significant return, financially and otherwise. You can add value to your property, save on energy, and enjoy cozy evenings with your family. A fireplace is a great addition to a home!