Superior Direct Vent Elite 40 Inch Corner Fireplace
But don't confuse multi-sided corner fireplaces with other multi-sided fireplace models. While most multi-sided corner versions have a see-through element, they are different from fireplace models designed for see-through configurations.
The fireplaces that are categorized as see-through are built into an interior or exterior wall. And these allow you to see the fireplace from two adjacent rooms or living areas. Multi-sided corner models, on the other hand, allow you to see the flames inside the unit from two different angles inside one room.
This is what most people have in mind when they think of a corner fireplace. In this case, a triangular enclosure is framed into the corner of the room so that the front of the fireplace is at a 45-degree angle to the adjacent walls.
Many people are surprised to find that most fireplaces can be installed at a 45-degree angle like this. It doesn't take a special kind of "corner" fireplace. In fact, most manufacturers include instructions to install the fireplace in either a flat or corner wall.
Top view of a corner fireplace installation framing
The main thing you need to consider is making sure you have enough space to frame the fireplace in the corner. The triangular section of the wall that is built out around the fireplace must not come too close to windows or combustibles. This required distance varies depending on the model of fireplace you buy. So, be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions. You also don't want the face of the enclosure wall to come too close to ceiling fans or light fixtures.
Obviously, the wider the fireplace, the wider the face of the enclosure wall must be.
Now that you know that almost any fireplace can be installed in a corner, what type should you choose? Here are a few things to consider.
Supplemental Heat or Ambiance?
What is your main reason for installing the fireplace in the first place? Do you want extra heat and lower energy bills, or do you want a fireplace mostly for style?
The purpose of the fireplace helps narrow down your options. For example, homeowners who want supplemental heat can focus on models that have high BTU output and high-efficiency ratings. If you are less concerned about heat output, you can focus on other aspects like flame quality and style.
Wood, Gas, or Electric Corner Fireplace?
Next, consider what fuel you want to use. There are several options in each of the main categories, but here's an overview to get you started.
Corner Wood Burning Fireplace
It doesn't get more classic than logs crackling and popping in the fireplace. Unfortunately, traditional open wood-burning fireplaces require more effort and maintenance. They also don't provide efficient heat.
Part of the inefficiency for these models is due to the chimney, which draws air (and heat) up and away from your home. It's also possible to get downdrafts of cold air that flow back into the home. While a wood fire has unmatchable charm and adds radiant warmth, it's not the best option for lowering your energy bills.
However, if your heart is set on a wood-burning fireplace, it may be a good idea to look for a closed combustion high-efficiency wood burning fireplace instead. The design of these units is similar to a built-in wood burning stove. They also provide a cleaner burn with greater heating efficiency. Although these models still require a bit more maintenance than gas or electric fireplaces, they possess greater overall efficiency than open-faced wood burning fireplaces.
Corner Installation Venting and Clearances
Wood burning fireplaces need a vertical chimney, so you'll have to factor that into your plans for building out the corner. They also typically need more distance (clearance) from combustible material than gas or electric models.
Corner Gas Fireplace
Gas fireplaces (whether propane or natural gas) are very popular and come in a huge range of sizes and styles. With the right venting system, they can be very heat efficient and low maintenance.
Corner installations are usually much simpler with gas fireplaces than with wood-burning models. Gas fireplaces tend to have a shallower physical footprint in comparison to wood-burning units. Due to the smaller firebox of a gas fireplace, less framing depth is required, saving more floor space. There are also several venting options available with gas models that allow you to hide the venting without cutting a lot of holes in your house.
On a side note, you can convert some traditional wood-burning fireplaces to gas-fueled. You would do this by installing a gas line and a gas log set. In this section, we'll cover purpose-built gas fireplaces, not wood burning conversions. However, if you do convert the fireplace, keep in mind that it uses the same chimney. As a result, you will the same efficiency issues as a wood-burning model. (You'll definitely have an easier time with maintenance and starting fires, though!)
B-Vent (Natural Vent)
B-vent gas fireplaces require a vertical vent pipe that runs from the fireplace to the roof. The pipes are smaller in diameter than the width required for a chimney, so it takes up less space. However, it vents in a similar way to a wood fireplace and is not as heat efficient as a direct vent system. Not to mention, the inconvenience of running a pipe all the way through your house to the chimney also lacks appeal.
Direct vent models are the golden boy of gas fireplaces. They are incredibly versatile and offer excellent heat efficiency ratings. Unlike b-vent models, direct vent systems can run vertically and horizontally. Some can even run downward for short stretches, when used in conjunction with a power vent fan. This makes it possible to install them in almost every situation without disturbing the floor plan of the house.
Side view of corner fireplace installation framing
The vent itself has two sections, one for drawing air into the fireplace and one for expelling the flue gases. The front glass of the fireplace is completely sealed during use, making the unit more heat efficient. It also does a great job of protecting the air quality of your home. The flame quality may not be quite as good as the b-vent models, but if you are looking for supplemental heat, you'll be far happier with direct vent.
These models are particularly suited to corner installations. That's because you can route the venting horizontally through an outside wall, an especially handy feature. They also come in a wide range of sizes and options, so you can choose one that complements the rest of your decor.
Vent-free fireplaces are the most versatile since they don't require any venting at all. Instead, these models are designed to burn the fuel in such a way that hardly any by-products are created. Though, trace vapors do vent into the home, which means these are not good options for people who are very sensitive to combustion particles. Also, they're not recommended for small, closed areas where the fuel vapors cannot dissipate. These models are limited to 40,000 BTUs.
Corner installations are obviously a cinch with vent-free models since you don't need to worry about venting at all. Just make sure you have enough ventilation in the room to account for combustion particulates.
Electric fireplaces rank first when it comes to versatility and easy maintenance. They require no fuel, so there is no need for venting, and there is almost zero maintenance required. You can install an electric fireplace almost anywhere and they are usually less expensive than other models.
For heat output, electric fireplaces function more like space heaters. They typically put out 5,000 to 10,000 BTUs, which means they won't heat larger rooms. They're perfect if you want something that gives the aesthetic of a cozy fire with a little extra heat.
Another bonus is that most electric fireplaces are easy to move, simply unplug and you're good to go! This makes them a great option for renters. You can read more about electric fireplaces here .
BTU and Efficiency Ratings
BTU is just a fancy way of saying how much heat the fireplace produces. It stands for British Thermal Unit. It is a way of measuring the heat output so you can compare different models. The larger the room and the colder the climate, the more BTUs you will need to stay warm.
Efficiency ratings like AFUE and thermal efficiency are related to BTU. But, they measure how well your fireplace uses fuel. Two fireplaces can have identical BTU outputs, but the efficiency ratings tell you how much fuel they had to use to reach that output.
As a side note, AFUE and thermal efficiency are calculated differently. This difference makes comparison confusing. The AFUE percentage only measures how much of the fuel turns into heat in the firebox. The thermal efficiency rating measures how much of the heat actually makes it into your room.
Building Codes and Local Restrictions
Before you purchase a fireplace, save yourself a major headache and check to make sure that the type of fireplace you want is allowed for your home. There are several restrictions that could be in play. States, cities, and even homeowner's associations have different laws and restrictions about fireplaces. So, make sure you clear everything with your local authorities.
You'll also want to consider building codes when installing a corner fireplace to ensure you have room for needed clearances. Keep in mind that electric fireplaces and some gas fireplaces require a power source.
Care and Maintenance
In addition to adhering to local building codes and maintaining proper clearances, it's equally important to execute proper care and maintenance to ensure the longevity and functionality of your fireplace. Beyond having a chimney sweep conducted each year, there are some other basic maintenance tips to follow based on fuel type that will drastically extend the lifespan of your unit.
For wood burning fireplaces, it's essential to clean the ash from the firebox after each burn. This means you'll need to remove the fire log grate and andirons if you have them to sweep out all the crevices. Once you sweep out the ashes, you can either dispose of them in an ash bucket or utilize them for other purposes. If you're interested in learning about the alternative uses for wood ash, take a look at our article here. While this may seem like a daunting task, doing so prevents excessive soot and creosote buildup that could pose a fire hazard later.
Also, if you tend to use your fireplace frequently, it's a good idea to conduct a more thorough clean of the firebox periodically. You can do this by using soap and warm water to scrub the floor of the firebox. Many people also apply some creosote remover with a wire brush to tackle the buildup around the firebox. Take note of any cracks or damages to the firebrick, as this could point to a more serious problem that may need to be addressed by a professional immediately.
For gas burning fireplaces, you will not have to conduct regular maintenance as frequently as with wood-burning models. However, there are still some things you'll need to do to ensure your fireplace functions as it should.
First, make sure to inspect your burner and pilot assembly periodically for corrosion or excessive wear and tear. You'll also want to dust areas near the gas valve that are more prone to collect a buildup of dust and dander. This includes areas near vent caps. You don't want any debris creating blockages.
If the unit has glass doors, a glass front, or a barrier screen, remove the glass from time to time for cleaning. Make sure to use cleaners specified in the owner's manual only. Once cleaned, ensure the doors open and close properly and the glass front and barrier screen seal as they should.
Summing It Up
Class A chimney elbow section
A corner fireplace makes a great addition to a room, and it turns out you can frame almost any fireplace into a corner &emdash; no special corner models needed! Just make sure you do your homework on what type of fuel and venting best fits your home. Also, don't forget to follow all of your local codes and fireplace restrictions.
Whether you're shopping for a fireplace or have questions about installation or maintenance, feel free to reach out. Our NFI Certified Specialists will be happy to help!