Buying a Fireplace

Purchasing a fireplace is a much harder task than it may first appear. Most homeowners are surprised by the additional considerations that can arise when thinking of putting in a fireplace. This article will attempt to demystify the fireplace shopping and buying experience.

Pitfall - Hidden Costs

The main thing to be aware of when you begin to think about a fireplace is that it is not like purchasing other products - you can't just go to the store, buy a fireplace, and then bring it home and use it. Here are some things to think about with a fireplace.

Installation

All fireplaces need to be installed. This process is also beyond the capability of most homeowners. So when you find a fireplace that you like, it is important to obtain an estimate on how must it will cost to install the fireplace. This usually means having the person come out and look at the fireplafce and then the area for which it will be installed. Once the professional has reviewed these things, he/she can provide an installation quote. This installtion might include cutting a space in the wall, building a chinmey or venting area, and many other things.

Fuel Costs

There are also fuel costs that need to be taken into consideration. Most fireplaces run on either wood, natural gas, or electricity. Each of these has its own costs, drawbacks, and benefits.

Maintenance

Once a fireplace is in use, the fireplace needs to be maintained. Ongoing use of the fireplace may require an annual inspection by a professional to make sure that it is operating in a safe and efficient manner. Inspection can cost money. Additionally, fireplaces typically need to be cleaned frequently in order to run safely. Cleaning a fireplace can be a time consuming task and can involve cleaning more than the opening to the fireplace.

Safety

Safety of your family and home should be important in the purchasing process. Needless to say, there are many things that can go wrong with a fireplace (creosote buildup, natural gas problems, lack of venting, carbon monoxide, just to name a few.) It may be important to spend money during the installation and ongoing use phases of your fireplace project to prevent injury.

Wood, Gas, Or Electric Fireplace

Most fireplaces fall into three main types. These are classified in the industry by the type of fuel that they consume. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Wood

Wood firepalces are what most people think about when they think of a fireplace. They are the most traditional option and consequently, they produce the "best" burn. They require a supply of wood logs which takes up sapce and can be the most difficult to clean and maintain. They also require a chinmey with significant venting and an exit for the smoke to the outside.

Gas

gas firepalces are easier to install and maintain than wood firepalces. They burn gas. This assumes that there will be a constant source of gas for them to burn which requires a gas line. They also require some outside venting since they emit fumes and burned gasses. They also should be used with caution. However, they are becoming and increasingly popular alternative to wood fireplaces.

Electric

An electric fireplace is often the easiest to install. Electric fireplaces typically do not require any venting and run on electricity ( the same as in every home). Due to their ease of install and use, they are also becoming popular. The main drawback to an electric fireplace is that they can look "fake." The fire may not burn in the same way that a wood fire will burn, but for many people, this is okay.

Fireplace Size

the size of the fireplace can be extremely important. In order to intall a fireplace, you must have an opening available that can house the fireplace. If not, many wires will need to be removed or rerouted, venting must occur, anfd the fireplace must fit where you want it to go. for many people, this can limit the size or type of fireplace that they are able to have.

Fireplace Decor and Style

For most people, this is the first thing that they will think about when they are considering a fireplace. That is why we have placed it near the bottom. Nevertheless, it is no small consideration since the fireplace will have an impact on the room or home. There are many styles of fireplaces available. For additional details of fireplace styles, see our additional articles in this section.

Fireplace Accessories and Add Ons

These can often affect the docrating scheme. The add ons are often a result of the fireplace type that has been selected. For example you may want a stylish and functional chimney cap if you select a wood fireplace. Or you may want a specialty stone mantale of hearth. Be sure to incluse these considerations while you are looking at a fireplace or dealing with an installation professional. The professional will not include many of these items in his or her quote unless you ask him to include them.