As much as we might like the idea of a fireplace, most of us don’t use it regularly.
A fireplace can add a unique ambiance to our rooms, it makes a home feel warm and comfortable. When we are buying a new house, most of us want to have a nice fireplace inside. The reality is, most homeowners don’t use their fireplaces on a regular basis. We pose for family pictures in front of the fireplace, hang Christmas stockings or display decorative vases and candles on it. Frankly speaking, a fireplace would be rather boring to look at without this ornate mantle, and not much of a glorified focal point in the room. Although it can be a great addition to our home, we should weigh the pros and cons when considering installing an indoor fireplace. If we already have one, we should ask ourselves such questions: Do we love it? Do we use it? Does it even work? Or if we could better use the space if it were a built-in storage or a blank wall?
We would like to present you few signs it may be high time to consider saying goodbye to your fireplace.
1. It simply doesn’t work
The fireplace is very often labeled “non-working” and just sits unused because the homeowner doesn’t know how to fix it. There are many common reasons why our fireplace may not function properly: damper is closed, firewood is green or too wet, the chimney is dirty or too short, the flue is too small for the fireplace opening, and so on. A true understanding of fireplaces requires some knowledge of actual fireplace construction techniques, air flow patterns, and pressure differentials. If you are not able to solve the problem yourself, consider hiring a specialist. However, sometimes there is nothing we can do to bring our fireplace back to life. We can keep such non-working fireplace as a place to display our quirky collection of books, candles or some art, but it’s more wisely to get rid of it.
2. Nobody uses it
Building a fire is not such easy task and takes time. We have to get kindling and firewood, and store them in proper conditions, then build and tend to the blaze. Indoor fireplace requires upkeep while a fire is being burned, and also after a fire has been burned. Plus, we have to maintain our chimneys. It’s a lot of effort, so it’s not surprising that we don’t actually use our fireplaces very often. Instead of looking at flickering flames, we are staring at a cold, black hole in the middle of our room for most of the year. There’s really no sense in keeping such dust-gathering object.
3. Woodburning is an air pollution problem
Woodburning from wood stoves and fireplaces is the largest source of particulate matter air pollution generated by residential sources. The burning wood creates air pollution, inside and outside the home. Wood smoke emissions contain components such as various irritant gases, carbon monoxide, and chemicals which are known or suspected to be carcinogens, such as dioxin and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It’s suggested to convert old wood-burning fireplace to the gas-burning appliance.
If you must burn wood, here are a few tips to reduce harmful emissions from your fireplace:
- Burn only clean and dry hardwood, such as oak, hickory or ash. Wet wood doesn’t burn well and produces much more smoke. Softwoods, such as pine and spruce, produce more emissions.
- Never burn painted wood, trash, and colored paper, which give off harmful chemicals and more smoke as they burn.
- Keep your chimney clean to prevent noxious emissions.
4. You have asthma or allergies
Ask yourself honestly is it worth the risk to keep a fireplace if someone in the house has asthma or allergies? The health effects of wood smoke exposure include for example increased respiratory symptoms, decreased breathing ability, and exacerbation of asthma. It has been proved that the elderly, young children, and people with the preexisting cardiopulmonary disease are most likely to be affected. Remember, your health is the most important asset, so take care of it.
5. You need more storage space
If your fireplace is not working or you use it twice a year, why not put in something more useful in this space? You can never have too much storage space! Think for example about putting floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets or shelving instead of a fireplace. Additional storage space is especially important in small houses or apartments. Every square meter matters and there are better ways to utilize it than installing a fireplace.
6. You don’t want to sacrifice the wall space
Have a room with so many windows, doors and other kinds of openings that it’s nearly impossible to arrange your furniture? Maybe it’s good to consider removing your old fireplace. Take advantage of that new found extra wall space and put there whatever you want: big sofa, comfortable armchair, bookshelf or wide-screen TV.
7. You want more warm
A traditional fireplace may look quite attractive in our living room, but it does little in terms of providing heat. Wood fireplaces are usually inefficient as a heating source because most of the warm is flowing up and escaping through the chimney. What’s more, it’s not just the warmth of the fire being pulled out, so it’s the heat from other rooms. If true warmth is what you are looking for, you should better invest in a quality woodstove, which can generate enough heat to warm an entire home. Even long after the fire goes out, we’re losing warm air because we need to keep the damper open for another few hours in order to keep the dying fire from depleting the oxygen in our home, thus we are losing even more heat after the fire goes out.
There may be many reasons why we would want to get rid of our fireplace, from simply wanting to replace it with another one to just wanting to update the look of our living room. Whatever our reason, this is quite an easy job, but can be a rather messy one. Just be prepared. Roll back the carpet, move any furniture as far away as possible and cover everything with dustsheets. Now you can start your job and make some space for something more useful than your old fireplace.