So you’ve been wanting to switch out your fireplace system but you haven’t pulled the trigger? Here are some tips on when is the most appropriate time to change your fireplace system:

#1 When you’re getting ready to invest in some very dramatic repairs for your existing fireplace system.

The number one reason most people make the switch and upgrade their fireplace systems is that they’re getting ready to repair the system and make a sizable investment. This is when you’d want to make up your mind on whether you want to stick with a wood-burning fireplace, switch to a gas-burning fireplace, switch to a pellet stove, or repair it exactly the way it is.

When you’re switching out a system or repairing a system, typically you’re talking about a sizable investment. Depending on your system, it’s measurements, what you pick out, and what you want, you’re going to be in the neighborhood of anywhere from about $6,000-$12,000 as a range. At that pricing point, you might as well make a decision on whether or not it’s time to get something new.

Maybe you like wood-burning but you want auxiliary heat, so instead of fixing your fireplace, you opt to have a wood stove insert and new liner system installed. You’ll be in a similar ballpark cost-wise, but what you’ll get is a big boost in heat and efficiency. You’ll get more radiant heat off of the metal and more convection heat blown in by the fan. You’ll even lower your fuel bills by getting more auxiliary heat.

So think about what you really want. It may make more sense to make a switch rather than make the repairs.

#2 When you have an outdated and inefficient system.

If you have a wood stove that’s 15-25 years old, chances are it’s just a big, wasteful, creosote-producer, and you’re not getting the heat back into the home that you’d get with a new one. If you get a new wood stove installed in the home, it’s going to be more efficient, it’s going to pollute less, and it’s going to throw more heat back into your home. So the return on investment is going to be worthwhile if it’s something you’re going to use for a decent period of time.

A lot of our clients are making the choice to go to more modern, flush woodstoves, getting more bang for their buck, and still enjoying the nice coziness of a woodburning fireplace and the great view of the fire. But they’re also getting more heat back into the home and they’re not paying larger electrical bills or fuel oil or gas bills to heat their home.

before picture of renovated wood stove
after picture of wood stove installation

#3 When you have a lifestyle change.

Maybe when you were younger you really enjoyed going out and chopping the wood, bringing it in, and tending to the fire. Maybe now you’re a little older or your lifestyle has changed to where you’re busier, and by the time you get home at night, it’s 7-7:30, you don’t have time to build a fire and stay up with it, but you’d really like to relax and look at the fire.

You’d like to hit a remote control, turn the gas fireplace on, and have some heat coming into the home — something that looks really authentic that you can truly enjoy. Then, when you’re falling asleep during the 10 o’clock news, you want to simply click to turn the fireplace off so you can head to bed.

If your lifestyle has changed and you’re not able to enjoy your fireplace any longer, it may mean it’s time to consider making a switch to something more fitting.

before picture of gas log installation
after picture of gas log installation

#4 When you have a factory-built fireplace that’s reached the end of its life expectancy.

Factory-built fireplaces typically last about 15 years, and unfortunately, many manufacturers stop manufacturing parts after about 10 years. So if you do have something significant that breaks or needs replacement and you can’t get parts for it, that’s a great time to replace the entire unit. When you do replace it, you may opt for something more efficient or choose to change fuel types or appliances.

#5 When you’re tired of looking at the unit itself and you’re ready to update your space.

If you feel like your fireplace is keeping your home in the 70s, it may be time to make a switch. You may want to change the surround and the fascia of the fireplace for a more modern look. Or maybe you want to transition from brick to stone. Either way, this is the perfect time to update appliances as well.

What Should You Expect When Updating Your Fireplace System?

Typically, an update can be done in either one or two trips, depending on what’s going on on the inside. If you have a lot of creosote deposits leftover, of course, all of that will have to be removed and cleaned out. Why? Because creosote is a combustible, which means it’ll catch fire when it’s re-heated. It’s also carcinogenic, and you don’t want a cancer-causer in your home, because you do get airflow coming in and out of the chimney, regardless of whether or not it’s being used.

One thing to keep in mind, no matter what type of appliance you’re having installed is that you need to make sure your chimney exterior is water-tight. You don’t want to make the investment of buying a wood stove, a gas fireplace, or a pellet stove, install it in there and then have all that moisture come in and basically rust out your system in a year or two.

This is a substantial investment that’s nothing to sneeze at, so you don’t want to risk it and have to do it all over again.

Have questions about upgrading your fireplace? Give us a call — we’re happy to help!

About The Author

Chuck Roydhouse is a retired professional firefighter, owner of Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County, and President of CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America). He has a degree in Fire Science from Shepherd University and 25 years of experience as a career firefighter.

Clean sweep of anne arundel county owner, Chuck Roydhouse