Adding a Fireplace to an Existing
Did you just buy a new home without a fireplace, or did you
decide to add a fireplace to an existing room?
That’s what we did. Although our home was
brand-new, it was a spec home, so the builder chose the
upgrades, and he didn’t include a fireplace. Rather
than pay over $5,000 to have him add one later, we decided
to do it ourselves. I’m glad we did, but the process
was definitely a learning experience.
Wood Burning Fireplaces Versus Gas Log
The first step is deciding what type of fireplace you can
have. There are many places in the country that will only
permit gas log fireplaces, also known as vented
fireplaces, because of pollution concerns.
This includes cities like Denver (notorious for
its brown cloud), and many towns and cities in
California. Some are passing new laws even as you
read this. If you’re not sure what types of
fireplaces you may have, call your local building
department to find out about any restrictions before you
proceed any further.
Choosing the Location of Your
Armed with this information, it’s time for the next step –
choosing the location of your fireplace. There are many
questions to be answered here, and lots of things to consider
before you can even begin to start shopping.
The location of your fireplace may also determine the type
of fuel you will use. Wood burning and vented gas
fireplaces require access to an outside wall, while unvented
gas fireplaces may be placed anywhere.
If you want a wood burning fireplace, you must choose a
location that can accommodate a brick chimney along the
outside. Personally, I love this look, especially when
ivy starts to climb up the wall, with beautiful green leaves
contrasting the red chimney bricks. But I wouldn’t
want a chimney jutting into the middle of an existing deck, nor
narrowing an egress along the side of the house. Think
carefully about this, because you are making a decision which
will forever change the outside look of your property.
But don’t let this scare you away from adding a fireplace,
since this will also increase the value of your home, not to
mention lowering your heating bill.
Even if your plan calls for a vented gas or propane
fireplace, you still need to ventilate it. The nice part
about a gas fireplace is that it just needs a simple vent about
8” in diameter, which won’t affect the outside look of your
home significantly. We put our gas fireplace in the
corner of our family room, using parts of both an inside and
outside wall, making it a beautiful focal point in the room,
with an outside vent that’s barely noticeable.
Once you’ve decided upon the location of your fireplace, the
next step is determining whether to choose a wood burning or
gas log fireplace, if you have the option.