Tips for Avoiding Common Fireplace Buying Pitfalls
A fireplace can change the entire ambiance of a home. It provides warmth, atmosphere, and an aesthetic focal point for any room. Some fireplaces will provide supplemental heat on cold nights, while others serve an entirely decorative purpose.
It’s very common for homeowners to be almost completely focused on the end result and often don’t realize the complexity involved in selecting and installing a gas fireplace. You can save your yourself a lot of time and many headaches if you are aware of these four common pitfalls when shopping for the right fireplace.
There are so many different fireplace styles and terminologies that determining what you want and need can be a challenge. The good news is, there are some simple terms that help cut through the industry jargon so you can identify what kind of fireplace is going to be right for your home.
- Linear/Contemporary vs. Classic/Traditional: These terms, referring to both the firebox shape and the burning display can be confusing, and rightfully so. Since many fireplaces can have a variety of burning displays regardless of firebox shape, the first consideration should be what the main function of the fireplace will be (i.e. heat source vs. decorative). When discussing burning displays, describe your dream fireplace look in terms such as “logset” and “glass media”.
- Control and Ignition System: CPI, IPI, HSI, standing pilot… as a customer you are probably only interested in how these effect the final cost, both in the sort term and the long run. Additional considerations come from which option is the most reliable, and which fans, remotes, etc. can be used with each control system. A dealer can help you navigate these decisions.
- Efficiency Ratings: Efficiency numbers can seem complicated and overwhelming. Generally, the public assumes that a higher efficiency number is better. While this is true for getting the most heat out of a fireplace, the flame appearance is impacted by a higher efficiency, and most rebates don’t reward an 85% efficient fireplace over a 62.4% efficient one.
Estimating Accurately for the Project
Another fireplace buying tip is to take the entire project into consideration. When shopping around, you need to take into account not only the price of the fireplace itself, but also the cost of installation, venting, and any additional options or accessories. Of course every job is different, but there are some frequently overlooked budget numbers that can help when accurately planning a project. Consideration should be used with the following:
- Possible changes in venting, electrical or gas routes. Depending on the location of the fireplace, the installation may require a power vent.
- The time and cost of a conversion kit installation if the unit needs to be switched to Propane from Natural Gas, or vice versa.
- The fireplace may require special clearances and framing adjustments, such as the use of steel studs instead of wood. Additionally, some fireplaces require special chase venting which can add cost to a project.
Being Frugal with the Installation
You’re putting fire in a home, so safety and longevity should be top priority. This is where a dealer’s advice can be critical. Cost savings is in everyone’s interest but here are a few places where it’s best to not look for savings in lieu of the lifespan of the fireplace, or more importantly, safety.
- Many Montigo fireplaces include cement board for finishing. Always use the included cement board and always refer to and adhere to all clearances beyond what we provide. Never replace our included cement board with regular drywall – where needed, use a high heat resistant drywall compound.
- Do not use regular paint (such as latex) around the fireplace and fireplace chase, use a paint that withstands high heat and limits off gassing.
- High temperature grout, silicone, and other mortar type materials should be used to finish the surface of the fireplace.
Cost savings on these heat resistant building materials may look good to you in the initial budget, but not when you have to call your installer back to the site due to a cracking wall, falling tiles, or discolored paint.
Consult Local Code Enforcement
There is a National Code and hierarchy of guidelines that is used as a baseline for the installation of fireplaces, heaters, and other hearth products. Above National Code Compliance, installers must comply with the manufacturer’s product manual and Local Code Enforcement.
Certain municipalities may not allow certain fireplaces, (vent-free, wood burning, ethanol, etc.) and it’s best to determine what units are permitted before you purchase a fireplace that you cannot use.
With these four handy fireplace buying tips, you will be well equipped to navigate the large number of options available in today’s market. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, your local authorized Montigo dealer is here to help.