What Should I Consider When Installing a Fireplace?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
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  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Many homeowners contemplate installing a fireplace to warm up a home, add a decorative accent to public rooms, or increase the value of a home. In some cases, installing a fireplace is simple because a fireplace existed previously: in others, homeowners need to work from scratch. There are a two basic fireplace options: open wood fireplaces and gas fireplaces, and they should both be considered when installing a fireplace, depending on what your needs are. Both types come in a myriad of designs which are suitable for many decorating schemes.

If you are installing a fireplace from scratch, using a professional is highly recommended. An improperly installed fireplace can cause health problems or burn the house down, and it is very important to ensure that the chimney is long enough, the fireplace is made from fireproof material, and that all the components of the fireplace are installed correctly. A professional can also advise you on the best type of fireplace for your needs. Ask around to find a reputable contractor with experience in installing a fireplace, and make sure to get bids from several contractors before you start work.


Generally, if you are planning on installing a fireplace for decorative purposes, an open wood fireplace is perfectly suitable. However, if you are using the fireplace to warm the home, you may want to think about installing a fireplace which runs on gas, because it will be warmer, more energy efficient, and much easier to get going. Gas fireplaces also have beautiful dancing flames, and they are also much safer because they are less likely to throw back sparks. In addition, the chimney does not need to be as broad, because it is not providing draw for a wood fire.

If you are installing a fireplace to replace a previous model, there are a few important considerations to take into account. The first thing to check on is the chimney. If the fireplace is designed for wood, the chimney needs to be at least 15 feet (4.6 meters) tall, to provide enough draw. The chimney also needs to be clear, and should be checked by a chimney sweep to ensure that it is not leaky. A leaky chimney can be deadly, in addition to leaving an unsightly layer of dust around the house. Your chimney or stove pipe should be swept regularly as long as you actively use the fire to keep things clean and clear.

Especially in wooden houses, it is crucial that a constructional hearth be used under the fireplace and extending out at least one foot (30 centimeters) into the room. A constructional hearth is made from a thick, fireproof material and is designed to prevent the joists of the house from catching on fire. Homeowners should also take care to install a fireproof mantel, and to purchase a grille to prevent sparks from entering the room. There may be other requirements in your area which can be found in the local building code: make sure that you comply with them for safety and legal reasons.


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Post 3

If I just wanted to brick up my fireplace, do I need to know anything? I think it was gas. There are two pipes leading off of what was the old fire unit. It is 60 years old. All I want to do is brick it up and make it good. -- Andy

Post 2

can you install the hearth for a gas vented fireplace right on top of my new hardwood floors.

Post 1

I have a natural gas fireplace surrounded by brick in my basement. I was wondering if the flew would be rated to convert it into a wood burning fireplace?

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