Installing a fireplace in your new home or renovation.
If you do it right, a fireplace installed in your new home or renovation can make all the difference.
A fireplace that is the right size, shape and look can take a normal room and make it a gathering place.
Fireplaces have been used as a gathering point for over a 1000 years. Fire is a very primitive thing to humans, it draws us together. On that cold December morning when the house feels cold because you just got out of bed, sitting beside the fireplace looking out the window at the blowing snow, you get this warm content feeling, this feeling of home.
A wood burning fireplace can be as detailed as 20 ft of horizontal stone around it up 30 ft through the roof with a giant mantle, to a simple drywall with a gas fireplace that looks like it is floating in the middle of the wall.
There are several different types of fireplaces these days:
Wood Burning fireplace: This is original fireplace, it burns wood and requires a chimney to vent smoke and create draw to help the fire burn. There are so many different wood burning fireplaces these days. Contrary to popular belief wood burning fireplaces do not create air pollution. If you were to leave the tree that was cut down to feed your fireplace in the forest to rot, it would give off the same chemicals into the air that you release when burning it. Also there are new air tight wood burning fireplaces that recycle all smoke back through the firebox eliminating almost all chemicals from the smoke.
Wood burning fireplaces require more work to install properly. Depending on the kind of fireplace you decide on this will dictate the amount of work required to install. Also wood burning fireplaces restrict where you can install them. Because they require a chimney they usually have to be placed on an outside wall, or a room without a second story. This can cause design problems and most be thought about before the building of the house starts. The bigger the fireplace and surround the bigger the foundation you will require under the floor. This means that you will need footings under your basement floor to carry the weight.
Wood burning fireplaces need to be professionally cleaned every year or every couple of years. This depends on the amount of use. You will also have to handle firewood, kindling and matches. Either you cut and split your own wood or you hire someone to do it for you. You will also require a place to store the wood that will keep it relatively dry, this can be either inside or outside. The kindling should be kept dry. These days of paper flyers make it easy for people to have material to start fires, I find that the Wal-Mart flyer burns rather well. Since you need to handle the wood, there is always dirt and dust that comes with it. So if you can’t handle any kind of dirt in your home then maybe a wood burning fireplace isn’t for you.
Gas Burning Fireplaces: Gas burning fireplaces have come a long way in the last 20 years. There are so many different versions and varieties of gas fireplaces now it is entirely up to the person’s taste in what they want.
There are gas fireplaces that are used as heaters, they come with built in fans to help move the heat created by the fireplace to warm the room up. There are gas fireplaces that do not create any heat when they are on, they are only there as decoration and all the heat they create is removed out the chimney.
Gas fireplaces require venting as well; there are two different kinds of venting for gas fireplaces. The first is the typical chimney that vents out the roof into the air above the house; this means that you can place your fireplace anywhere that allows you to vent the fireplace up and out the roof. Gas fireplace chimneys are not as large as wood fireplace chimneys and require a lot less space.
The second is called direct vent. Direct vent vents straight out a wall behind the fireplace requiring no chimney. It does require that you place the fireplace on an outside wall.
Gas fireplaces are not just placed in the living anymore. People now install gas fireplaces in their bedrooms, basements and dining rooms. They even install fireplaces now in their bathrooms next to the bathtub so that you have a little romance in the tub and some heat when you get out. There is actually no room in the house that can’t install a gas fireplace. There aren’t that many limitations, only your imagination creates the limitations.
There a lot of places that you can’t have a gas fireplace because you don’t have access to natural gas. These places will require you to install a propane fireplace. This will do the same thing as gas fireplaces, the big difference is selection and you will need to install a holding tank on your property to supply the fireplace with propane. This will require inspections and for it to be annually filled.
Electric Fireplaces: Electric fireplaces have come a long way in the past ten years; they are becoming a nicer piece. There are still the cheap versions out there, but the higher end electric fireplaces are starting to resemble real fireplaces. They also can be installed anywhere in the house and do not require any venting. They do produce some heat, but not a lot. There are some nice features about them, they work well in small spaces, they are a cheaper alternative to wood and gas. You can install them yourself and there is no actual flame in them.
So when you are thinking about a fireplace first choose the type of fireplace that you want, then where you want to put it. After that it’s all about your personal taste and of course your budget.
Village Builders inc.