Do I really need a fireplace?

bostonhomeAugust 27, 2009

I'm renovating an 1870 Victorian-era two-family house. I've gutted it and need to decide on the fireplace situation. There is one chimney. The 1st unit below will be a rental so it will not have a working fireplace, just a mantel in the living room. However, I will live upstairs in the 2nd unit and can put in a gas insert that will use the chimney to vent. I'm not sure I want to go through the expense and trouble of putting in a fireplace in my will also take up some floor space in the living room. However, I feel guilty not installing one because it's a New England home and a fireplace would be very appropriate (if not a must). I would like to hear your thoughts on this and whether or not I should install a working fireplace in my unit.

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In my humble opinion, a gas fired direct vent fireplace is worth considering, although it is a costly option. They are highly energy efficient, unlike most conventional fireplaces that send most of the heat up the chimney, and they do not alter the indoor air quality, because they are completely sealed. We installed such an insert because here in North Carolina we sometimes get ice storms that trigger power outages, and we wanted to hav a heat source that does not depend on electric power. But besides that, we really enjoy the fire. It's nice in the dead of winter to press the button on the remote to turn on the flame and, in just a few minutes, the room is toasty warm. We're from NY originally, and I imagine that the experience of a nice fireplace would be at least equally compelling in New England.

If you decide to do it, make sure you get direct vent technology, and make sure your installer is experienced in this arena, because it is a complicated project. Ours took a whole day to install.

One more consideration: The Obama adminstration is offering tax credits for certain "energy star" heating and air conditioning systems. A direct vent fireplace insert might be eligible for sucha tax break.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2009 at 11:10PM
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Don't make the mistake of not putting one in. Over the long run, you will be disappointed without it. I have four fireplaces in my house and can't wait for the cool season to
fire one up. Fireplaces are wonderful - you deserve it!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 8:26PM
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