The Second Biggest Decision for the House Renovation…

Not the sinks or faucets, not the floor tile or cabinetry, but the fireplaces. There are four existing fireplaces now, all wood burning, three in good working order, one always blew back smoke, no matter how many times we had alterations done to the chimney.

The fourth fireplace, the one that doesn’t work, is scheduled for demolition anyway, recreating the space to become a screened-in porch.

The new addition family room has a gas fireplace sketched in so we did plenty of due diligence and visited three local fireplace dealers looking at many different models. Part of the big plan was to install gas inserts in the three main fireplaces (that are all serviced by one large brick chimney and work very well, as we have it cleaned annually). We thought it would be easier to turn on a switch for flames without chopping more wood and getting the occasional puff back of smoke.

We spoke to our propane dealer to talk about BTUs and what that translates into needing a bigger propane tank.

All in all, we are left with more questions than answers. Is it worth the effort (and money, each gas insert is about $4k) to buy and install three gas inserts to retrofit from wood (requiring gas lines to be brought under the house to the main chimney) and ALSO buy a new gas fireplace for the family room. The gas fireplace for the family room has to be vented and that work all has to be done before the cabinetry on either side of the fireplace get built.

The brand of gas fireplace we liked the most is Mendota. They had the most options in terms of making the gas fireplace look real, to picking the interior back wall material and color, to the kind of “wood” logs.

We even looked at electric fireplaces but they were horrible. Nothing reality based. More like a honeymoon hotel with a heart shaped bathtub vibe. Not for us.

Yesterday, I tripped across an Instagram ad for an ethanol fueled fireplace, by Planika. I’d never heard of the company, nor ever seen an ethanol fueled fireplace. Their ethanol fireplace designs, probably because they are a European based company, are very modern. Too modern for this very traditional 1930s cottage.

Another link, Ethanol Fireplaces, has a page of ventless inserts. Again, very modern looking but the price tag is in the hundreds, not thousands.

What am I missing?

The balance we are trying to achieve is making life simpler for us as well as not wasting money on tons of propane. I don’t know the answer. Do you?

4 thoughts on “The Second Biggest Decision for the House Renovation…

    1. Thanks. We looked at Yotul too. They are really attractive as well as providing good heat. We haven’t eliminated that idea.

  1. Consider leaving the three wood burning fireplaces alone. They have an ambiance that can’t be duplicated. How often would you use gas fireplaces to justify the installation expense? Look into having a gas fireplace in the new family room on its own propane supply. When you aren’t on the porch, you’ll probably be in the family room.
    I’m glad you are finally getting a screen porch. The best idea was including a ceiling fan when ours was built. It’s my favorite place in the house.

    1. It wasn’t until we started shopping for gas inserts did we realize how much they cost. There are less expensive brands but they look cheap. What we might do is bring the propane line to the center chimney then if we have a buck fiddy left over after the renovation, we can add a gas insert as we can afford it. If we don’t do the infrastructure part now, bringing the propane line in, it’ll never happen. Lots to decide yet.

      I’ve thought about a ceiling fan on the screened porch but I want to see the ceiling height first. The porch is being cobbled from existing indoor space that doesn’t have a very high ceiling. Like you, I suspect the porch is where we’ll spend a great deal of time.

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