Installing a Gas Fireplace

New kinds of fireplaces are affordable and can be installed in almost any home.
The Key Is Proper Venting

Q: How would a contractor install a gas fireplace on our first floor? Would installation disturb our finished basement or wood floors? What kind of price should we expect?

A: The good news is that a properly installed new gas fireplace will affect neither your wood floors nor your basement. For many of us, the word fireplace conjures up visions of a massive, heavy masonry column running from foundation to roofline and radiating blazing heat in all directions. But thanks to advancements in technology, the new models are so lightweight (made of metal) and well-insulated that they can be installed against almost any wall, with a frame and hearth built around them.

The main issue is proper venting. Draft-vented fireplaces suck air in from the home and then draft gasses outside through a chimney. Direct-vent fireplaces draw air from the outside and exhaust back to the outside, often directly out the wall, eliminating the need for a standard chimney system. This is the most common type of venting system for gas fireplaces. There are also vent-free models, which burn fuel efficiently and return minimal exhaust into the room. However, ventless fireplaces are not approved in some states. Talk to your contractor and consult local and state building codes to determine the proper venting method for your home.

Direct-vent fireplaces range from about $1,200 to $3,000 or more, and installation costs run about $1,000. That includes running gas lines and electrical power to the fireplace, if necessary.