Most everyone loves the look and comfort that a fireplace brings to a home. Unfortunately, not all homes come equipped with this favorite feature. But just because a home was not built with a fireplace does not mean that it can never have one. In fact, it’s surprisingly easy to add a fireplace to an existing home. Here’s a little primer on some things to consider.

Is It Possible to Add a Fireplace to My House?

In almost all cases, the answer is a resounding YES. You’ll just need to determine which style of fireplace will work best for your specific home and layout. Get familiar with your area’s building codes to check requirements such as minimum clearances around vent pipes and limits on fireplace emissions. Also, consulting with a trained fireplace installation professional is highly recommended.

What Kind of Fireplace Should Install?

Fireplaces generally fall into one of four categories: masonry (also known as wood fireplaces), gas, electric, and zero-clearance (also known as prefabricated or manufactured fireplaces). Wood fireplaces require a chimney, which can be built for an added cost. Gas and electric fireplaces tend to be easier to vent. making them much easier to install too. Some gas and electric fireplaces are vented with a simple pipe as opposed to a full chimney, while others require no venting system at all. Here are some options that are available:

Wood-Burning Masonry Fireplaces

This is the kind of fireplace that comes to mind for most people, and it tends to be the most expensive. It’s made of a brick or stone firebox, a brick or stone chimney, and usually a wood mantel. Wood (masonry) fireplaces require a chimney, which will increase the overall cost and will need to meet local codes. Still, for lots of homeowners, nothing beats a roaring wood fire with its crackling logs and picturesque flames.

If you want to add a wood-burning fireplace, you need space above to get a chimney through the roof. In two-story houses, choices for placing the fireplace might be more limited, but often you can find the 12- to 14-inch space the chimney requires by enclosing a corner of a room or a spare closet.

Direct-Vent Gas Fireplaces

For the easiest installation, choose a direct-vent gas or electric fireplace. You can install this type of fireplace on any exterior wall, and it will vent directly out the back. Installation usually takes about a day to a day and a half. While you won’t get the sounds and aroma of a wood fire, gas and electric fireplaces give any room ambience and often supply more warmth than a wood-burning fireplace. Plus, these fireplaces start with a flip of a switch and they’re equally easy to clean and maintain.

Zero-Clearance Fireplaces

If you’re looking for an inexpensive fireplace option, consider a zero-clearance or factory-built fireplace. These are lightweight fireplaces often with linear designs to fit more modern tastes. In comparison with masonry fireplaces, they’re easier to install and require significantly less construction work. Since their firebox enclosures always remain cool, zero-clearance fireplaces can be installed in any room—even directly over hardwood floors and within a few inches of existing walls.

Where Should I Install My Fireplace?

The location of your new fireplace will affect the complexity and cost of the job. Gas and electric fireplaces, because of simpler venting needs, can be placed in many areas within a home that wouldn’t work for wood fireplaces. That’s because a wood fireplace typically will go against a main outside wall so that a proper chimney can be constructed. Talk with your contractor or installer to understand the placement options that would be best in your specific home.

No matter which room you decide on, make sure its floor joists are reinforced. You also should factor in the dimensions and thickness of the firebox, the size of the damper opening, and the type of chimney and liner used. Refer to your local building codes to get detailed specifications for each of these considerations as well as for the minimum distance between a fireplace and combustive materials. Some building codes require that the house framing be modified to accommodate the increased weight of the fireplace addition.

Does a Fireplace Increase My Home’s Value?

Unfortunately, regardless of how much it costs you to add a fireplace, you probably won’t recoup the actual money you spend on adding one. A fireplace generally isn’t calculated separately into a professional home appraisal, so it’s difficult to assign an increased value from your investment.

However, should you choose to sell your home, a fireplace often increases your home’s appeal to prospective buyers. A report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says that over half of all prospective homebuyers list a fireplace as either being desirable or essential to their home purchase.

Find Your New Fireplace at Fallon’s

If you are looking to transform your home by adding a fireplace, the team at Fallon’s is ready to help. We stock a range of fireplace options from Vermont Castings, Stuv 16, Quadra-Fire, Harman and Heat & Glo. Just give us a call or stop in. We look forward to serving you.