Fireplaces can make any home feel cozier, in addition to providing warmth throughout the winter. And these days, there are so many different types of fireplace, you can probably have one installed even if your home doesn’t have a built-in chimney. But before you get too excited and decide to buy and install a fireplace for your home, there are a few things you should know.
Your Fireplace Shouldn’t Be Your Main Source of Heat
Fireplaces are great at providing strong and radiant warmth, but only to one room of the home. If you try to make your fireplace work overtime by heating your entire house, you might be disappointed by the results: inefficient heating and incredibly high energy costs. It’s usually recommended that homeowners use new fireplaces as a complementary or additional source of heat, with a more conventional form of heat distribution to keep the house at a baseline temperature.
You’ll Need to Have a Screen
No matter what type of fireplace you install, you’ll need to have a protective screen installed—and for good reason. This screen will shield your room from all kinds of particulate matter that might be generated by the fire. When no fire is active, it will also keep your pets and children away from the open area. You can choose just about any type of screen you want, adding a decorative element to your fireplace if you so desire.
There Are Many Types of Fireplaces to Choose From
You might have a picture of a fireplace in your mind, but these days, there are dozens of different fireplaces to choose from (and even more sub-varieties of those core types). Wood burning fireplaces rely on wood, and rely on a powerful ventilation system to ensure the smoke is distributed properly and safely. Gas burning fireplaces are also very common, and they tend to burn cleaner and cost less to operate. Ethanol burning fireplaces are even more environmentally friendly, and you can also choose to have an electric fireplace; however, electric fireplaces tend to have less of a conventional “fire” feel to them.
Whatever type you choose, you’ll have dozens of options in terms of presentation, shape, color, size, and of course, ventilation. You’ll also need to decide on a location, which can be a difficult choice, since once installed, you won’t be able to move the fireplace easily.
You Should Make a Budget Upfront
Fireplaces range from very inexpensive to very expensive. Because the options are practically limitless, it’s generally your best bet to establish a budget upfront, setting a firm upper limit for what you’re willing to spend. From there, you can work with a fireplace salesperson or browse the web to find options that fit squarely within that budget.
You Should Get Your Fireplace Professionally Installed
It’s entirely possible for you to learn the basics of fireplace installation, and try to do the job on your own. However, this is typically inadvisable. Fireplaces, if installed incorrectly, pose several major safety hazards, and you could injure or harm yourself in the installation process if you don’t know what you’re doing. Many fireplaces rely on some kind of fuel line (as with natural gas), and any mistake here could result in a leak that could harm or even kill you and your family members. Similarly, if your fireplace’s ventilation isn’t working properly, it could result in a breathing hazard for everyone in your home. Unless you’ve had experience in this area, it’s a good idea to pay the extra money to have your fireplace professionally installed.
Safety Codes May Stand in Your Way
Depending on your city and county, there may be safety codes and legal regulations that stand between you and the fireplace of your dreams. For example, in some areas, traditional wood burning fireplaces may not be allowed, period. In other areas, you may be required to get a permit before you attempt to install a gas-burning fireplace. No matter what, there will probably be standards for how your fireplace must be installed, and how it must be ventilated. These are all done to keep the public safe and reduce the risk of a fire, but they can be annoying if you’re trying to get a cozy fireplace installed for your home. Working with a professional can help you navigate these complexities.
Almost any home can be made to feel cozier, more welcoming, and of course, warmer with a new fireplace. Obviously, installing a new fireplace where there wasn’t one before can be an intensive and sometimes expensive renovation, but the number of options available to modern homeowners make this a flexible project. Do your research in advance, and prepare for all the contingencies you can.