Fireplace Installation

Preparation for installing your fireplace

As with any other major home renovation project, you need to do some preparation when installing a fireplace.

The first thing that you need to do is look at the available types of fireplaces to figure out what kind you want. Given the different choices as far as fuel, materials for your fireplace surround, various price levels, and so on, it is very important that you visit several showrooms to be sure that you have a good feel for the available models. This way, you are much better equipped to decide what best fits with your home's existing décor and your personal tastes.

Always ensure that the fireplace which you are purchasing has been sized for the area that you intend to heat and your local climate. Much of the time, fireplaces have an area heating capacity rated in square feet. Remember that these numbers are usually based on either 7' or 8' ceilings, so it is important to ensure that the salesperson or installer knows the size of your home so that they can ensure the fireplace's ability to heat it. If you really want to know whether a fireplace, woodstove, or other heating system will be sufficient for your home's heating needs, have then installer perform a complete heat-loss calculation on your home. This heat-loss calculation helps to guarantee that the fireplace is neither too big nor too small. If your main motivation for buying a fireplace is to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the room, then heat loss calculations and fireplace sizing are not such significant concerns.

Once you have decided on whether to get a free-standing fireplace or fireplace inserts, you will need to know what kind of accessories you want and need. There are remote controls, fans, thermostats, and various "visualization" accessories ranging from glass beads to aquatic scenes. Be certain that you know what your options are so that you know you'll be happy with the fireplace that you end up with.

As far as the actual fireplace installations, once you have had a consultation with your installer and know the location where you want the fireplace to be installed, you can clear the room by ensuring that furniture and other bulky items are out of the way. As well, it is a good idea to remove and temporarily store pictures or other breakables near the fireplace installation site. Like any home renovation project, the best way to minimize your odds of decorations or other breakables being damaged is by simply getting them out of harm's way.

If you are a particularly handy homeowner, you may choose to handle the installation on your own. You will need a building permit for the construction, and you may require a visit from a government-licensed inspector in order to have the fixture approved for use. Bear in mind that although the installation of a fireplace can take several days, depending on the type of wall into which it is being installed or whether or not you are installing an insert, manufactured stone fireplace, or a custom-built masonry fireplace. If you are installing an insert, it might take you 20 hours to do it properly, while a professional can probably do it in less than a day. Even if local regulations don't already demand it, a safety inspection from a qualified installer and/or government official is a very good idea. Without the proper permits and an inspection by a qualified individual, your fireplace's warranty may be voided, as well as your homeowner's insurance. When it comes to safety, it isn't worth taking chances, whether you install yourself or pay a contractor to do the work for you.

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