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Can You Build a Chimney in an Existing House?

Can You Build a Chimney in an Existing House?

Most modern homes don’t come with a chimney, which is a shame considering how useful and versatile they are. The good news is that a chimney and fireplace can be incorporated into most homes, but there are a few caveats you need to keep in mind.

Why Would I Want a Chimney and Fireplace?

Chimneys can add a bit of flair to an existing house outside and in. Not only are they a great decor item, but they can actually help cut back on heating bills come winter as wood and gas are much more efficient than electricity.

What About Building Codes?

Before you start fantasizing, you should look into existing building codes for your area to see if it is even possible. Federal, state and local law can all determine how and where you build the chimney and fireplace.

Pretty much everything about the chimney and fireplace other than style can be influenced by building codes. Expect things like the chimney height and width along with the location to all be heavily influenced by building codes.

Are There Different Types of Fireplaces?

There are a few types of fireplaces that you can build. While their aesthetics can be different, overall there are only three types in terms of function: masonry, zero-clearance, and gas powered fireplaces.

  • Masonry is probably the type of fireplace that immediately comes to mind. This is probably the largest and most impressive looking, but also most expensive. This type of fireplace consists of a stone firebox, bricks, and a wooden mantel.
  • The ultra-modern variant of a zero-clearance fireplace has fewer frills than the typical fireplace, and because of that is significantly cheaper and easier to install. Typically built into the wall like a picture frame, this fireplace can actually be located right over a hardwood floor.
  • Gas fireplaces work on exactly what the name implies – gas! Unlike traditional wood variants, gas powered fireplaces start easier and pollute less. Like zero-clearance, these type of fireplaces don’t need a lot of space.

How Much Will a New Chimney and Fireplace Cost?

Installing a fireplace and chimney can vary dramatically in price depending on what you want. If you go for a full masonry fireplace, expect to pay at least $7000. If you cut costs and go for something a little bit less extravagant, you can pull the price down to around $2000.

The location of the fireplace largely influenced by the overall structure of your house and building codes. If possible, install the chimney near the center of your house to heat up the largest area in the most efficient manner.

You might be thinking that putting it on the side of the house would be easier. It is easier, but not necessarily smarter. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to set a chimney stack on the outside of the house as it is more exposed to the elements. This greatly reduces the lifespan of a chimney – especially one that doesn’t heat well!

In order to ensure it follows federal safety guidelines, you need to get the proper lining. This liner protects the inside of the chimney and also works as a heat insulator. These are one of the most important parts of the chimney because of this.

What Is the Maintenance for a Chimney Like?

There are a few things you can do to ensure your chimney is well maintained and in good order to prevent any potential hazards. You should have an expert check it out regardless, as chimneys can become blocked with debris or inundated with carbon monoxide. Oregon Chimney Repair & Cleaning, Inc., a Portland chimney cleaning service, recommends having the chimney cleaned at least once a year to avoid this build up.

Check your chimney for any gaps in the joints periodically. Also, make sure you have taken the necessary precautions like installing carbon monoxide detectors and having it cleaned regularly. You can also invest in brushes to clean it yourself.

If you decide to hire a chimney sweeper, in general, sweeping a regular fireplace and chimney can cost anywhere from $79 to $200. If you need to clean a wood stove or take care of the liners, the minimum cleaning cost is around $109.

Building a new chimney into your house is not only possible, but can improve the value of your home and provide a snazzy conversation piece. Make sure to look at local laws dictating construction before you get started, along with following all the necessary safety procedures.