With cold weather coming, many of us are dreaming of long snowy days enjoyed by the fireside. There’s nothing better than soaking in the warmth of a winter fire, enjoying hot chocolate, and reading a good book. In fact, according to the National Builders Association, fireplaces are the second most requested feature shoppers look for when buying a new home.
But what if you’re a homeowner that wants to install a fireplace into your current home? There’s a good news: the days when building a fireplace was prohibitively expensive are over. Thanks to advancements in technology with gas fireplaces, it’s possible to have a professional plumber complete this project affordably in a day or two. Here’s what you need to know when planning to have a gas fireplace installed in your own home.
Wood fireplaces are the models you may be most familiar with. Installing one requires building the fireplace itself, chimney, firebox, flue and sometimes even floor supports to support the weight. These fireplaces operate by burning wood. Because of structural and exterior building concerns, limited areas within most houses are suitable for adding a traditional wood-burning fireplace. A gas fireplace installation is much more flexible. No burning or combustion takes place within the actual fireplace. The fireplace structures are able to contain the heat safely. Gas fireplaces can be added anywhere, from under a window to the center of a room. Gas fireplaces that are made with tempered glass can be exposed on three or four sides, to create a center room island look that’s very popular now. The only thing that’s required is a natural gas or propane connection.
If you’ve never seen a gas fireplace in action, you may be wondering how they hold up against the real thing. A gas fireplace often looks just like a wood burning fireplace. Of course, they do not put out the same heat as wood but options such as blowers make then nice and cozy to sit by. They’re available in a range of styles, which allows for design flexibility to blend with your existing décor or achieve a specific look and feel. Ceramic logs can be placed inside to create the illusion of burning wood. In terms of unit costs, wood and gas burning units are typically on par, ranging from several hundred to a few thousand dollars. The installation costs are often lower for a gas unit, although costs vary depending on which model you select, the construction of your home, and your current access to a gas or propane connection. In the long-term however, you can expect to save significant money and maintenance hassle with a gas model. Powering with gas is much less expensive than wood over time and friendlier to the environment. Some estimates suggest that that gas is the most efficient way to heat your home, costing about 25% of alternative methods. Gas fireplaces also need less maintenance and give you more control over your heat output. Finally, there is no need to stock up on wood every winter with gas.
One of the issues to consider with a fireplace is venting. Specifically, this refers to how heat, combustibles, and debris are carried out of the fireplace safely. With a traditional wood burning fireplace, this is the function of the flue and chimney. For gas fireplaces, there are three options to consider. Natural venting uses your existing chimney or a steel chimney insert to vent a gas fireplace. Direct venting draws in air from the outside, and releases it the same way. Vents are built directly from the fireplace to the outdoors, through the roof, chimney, or an outside wall. Finally, vent free technology is another option. The process uses a technology similar to your car’s catalytic converter to clean the air. These models are extra sleek, and may be the perfect choice to eliminate extra construction requirements. With gas powered fireplaces, it may be easier than you ever thought to have your dream fireplace installed this winter. Begin by shopping styles that appeal to you. Once you’re ready to move forward, contact a local professional plumber. They’ll be able to review your existing home layout, desired styles, and make recommendations for brands, installation plans, and venting that match your design goals and budget. Get started today, to keep warm this winter.
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