A fireplace is a superb addition for houses that are located in places that experience nippy weather. Usually, these are placed in living rooms, but have you ever thought of placing one in your basement? In this article, we have scoured the internet and asked home experts whether or not you can put your fireplace in the basement to answer this question for you.
Absolutely yes, you can put a fireplace in the basement; in fact, it is common. Consider local building codes and fire safety guidelines when installing a fireplace in your basement, and make sure the basement is compatible by determining:
- Availalble space for gas, electric, wood, or pellet fireplace
- Air vent and/or chimney for ventilation (ability to install if not present)
- Access to fuel lines and/or electrical wiring
- Insulation and well-sealed
If you are deciding to put a fireplace in your basement, this article is the right one for you. Stick around and finish reading so we can help guide you in achieving the perfect basement fireplace for your house.
Putting A Fireplace in Your Basement
Now that we know a fireplace can be in your basement, the next step is preparation. You might consult a contractor to determine if your basement is indeed compatible with a fireplace.
Additionally, consult your local fire department and building codes to help you know the safety guidelines when having a basement fireplace. Obtain an HOA permit for the installation if necessary.
Gas or Electric
Gas and electric fireplaces require minimal space for safe installation. Some models are flueless or ventless (respectively), so there would be no need for the addition of a vent or chimney. Smaller basements may benefit from this.
Of course, consider that utilizing gas or electricity influences your utility bills, so do a bit of investigating on the efficiency of these fireplaces before making your choice. And if the aesthetic appeal of an open flame is your goal, either can provide that lovely flicker.
Wood burning fireplaces require proper ventilation via a chimney, adequate ventilation around the unit, and of course some area where you can keep wood handy to add to the fire. Larger basements may benefit from this.
Pellet stoves give you the option for minimal space requirements, with proper ventilation, yet you can burn rather self-sufficiently by purchasing pellets. These stoves won't increase your utility bill, and they produce the warm heat of a wood stove without the mess of trekking and stacking wood in your basement.
Are there existing air vents or chimneys; if none can they be installed? The type of ventilation depends on the fireplace type.
If you aren't particularly handy, consider hiring a contractor for the air vent or chimney installation. Professionals will have the appropriate tools and ensure a well-sealed, neatly finished installation.
Is there adequate space around the fireplace once installed? Each type of unit has specific guidelines, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's installation instructions when placing your fireplace. You might also consider installing heat barriers, such as tile or sheet metal backdrops on the wall and/or floor to protect the area from excess heat.
Generally, you can estimate the following dimensions of open space around the unit, per fireplace:
- Gas units: six inches wall combustible clearance along all sides of firebox
- Wood burning units: 36 inches from walls and ceiling
- Electric units: zero clearance (keep flammable curtains, furniture, or other decor 36 inches away)
- Pellet burning units: three inches from walls
Fuel & Electrical Connections
You should also check if fuel lines for gas-powered units are safe to run. If you already have a gas supply to your home, be it for a cooking range, for instance, it might be simple to add another line for a gas fireplace. We'd recommend fuel lines be professionally installed and inspected to ensure safety, and no leaks.
Electric fireplaces could be easy enough to install by simply plugging into a wall circuit. However, depending on the unit and manufacturer's instructions, it might also more substantial wiring, an independent circuit box and fuse, and switch. We'd suggest you consult an electrician to ensure a proper, safe installation.
Insulated & Sealed Basement
Will your basement hold heat? A finished, insulated basement benefits from the installation of a fireplace because it maintains the heat to keep you warm.
Insulation also prevents damage to your walls and ceiling from any condensation that might develop as a result of running your fireplace. You'll also want to inspect any basement doors, windows, and bulkhead to ensure these areas are well-sealed and heat cannot escape.
In this article, you can find out the six types of basements you should know. Check it out to know which type of basement you have.
Why should I have a fireplace in my basement?
Basements are cold places in your house, especially if you live in a temperate climate. If you have converted your basement to a living space, a fireplace ideally regulates the seasonal temperatures.
- A fireplace adds aesthetics to the room, especially if it is well designed, well placed, and well built.
- Adding a fireplace decreases your energy consumption, as long as you don't opt for an electric one.
- Fireplaces with a flame illuminate a dull room.
In a previous article, we have discussed how cold is a basement and some additional steps that you can take to warm it up.
Does a basement fireplace add value?
According to The National Association of Realtors, nearly 46% of home buyers prefer a house with a fireplace, regardless of where it is. The study found out that buyers are willing to add $1,200-$1,400 extra cost for the fireplace, in some locations, these prices balloon to over $12,000.
Another study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found similar results in 2012, showing an increase of value for houses with fireplaces since their last similar study in 2007. Adding a fireplace not only boosts the aesthetics of your house but also its market value.
But there is a catch, the estimated value that a fireplace adds still depends on the location, the type of house you have, and other utilities that go along with it. It is still best to do your research on the housing market in your location.
An important thing to note, fireplaces that are placed in rooms that are commonly used hold a higher value than those that are not. This means that a fireplace in your living room is a higher value than in your basement. But you can work around this by designating a basement guest room or entertainment room, this fix usually increases value.
A caveat of this is that if you have not designed your basement as such, you would have to remodel it, and it would cost money, maybe even bigger than the additional value it may bring, so consider this as you build your fireplace.
Why do old houses have fireplaces in the basement?
This would have to do with the influence of European colonies that settled in America. In the olden days, basements doubled as kitchens and are usually placed underground. This practice was still prominent through the middle part of the 20th century, especially in Europe.
In America, this style was mostly associated with inns, taverns, and posh houses. The hearth of a basement fireplace usually ran to another hearth that would be placed on the first floor to heat it, and another hearth to heat the second floor, and so on.
Fireplaces were very important before, especially since there were no other means of heating up during cold winter seasons. But most of the time, basements that had fireplaces were used as kitchens. In some form, this was also used to distinguish the social standing of the owner.
Cost to install gas fireplace in basement
One modern option is a gas-powered fireplace, like a stove, you will just press 'start' and fire will roar out of your chimney. This is more preferred today. It is more efficient than wood-burning because it will not require wood, and better than electric ones because you can use it even without power.
But the price of installing one is not cheap, it ranges from $500 to $3,500, this is because you need to have a clean chimney, and cleaning your chimney can cost up to $200. Tubing, inserts, vents, and labor can run upwards of nearly $2,000.
You may also consider having a flueless gas stove; this technology uses a catalytic converter to turn carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide and water vapor, thus eliminating the need for a chimney. The caveat is this needs proper ventilation for the room.
If your basement does not have the required ventilation of at least 100cm2 of air ventilation, then this might not be the way to go. Yes, this might be cheaper because no installation of the chimney is required, but other requirements need to be met before installing.
This is compensated with the advantages that you can gain compared to its counterparts. If you live in a more urban area, wood can be difficult to acquire. Compared to electric ones, a gas fireplace runs on its own and has an actual real fire, wherein electric ones do not.
Putting a fireplace is in your basement is very possible. It is a great value for money as it helps raise the stock of your house and adds aesthetic elements to your home. Just remember to always observe the precautionary measures to keep everyone in the family safe. And last but not the least, enjoy your basement fireplace.