Congratulations on deciding on a new fireplace for your residence! You've taken the first step to add amazing value to your home. Now, you just need to get through the installation phase.
To help ease this process, eFireplaceStore has created a series of checklists to assist you with the various steps of fireplace installation. Whether you choose to use them as a reference during the DIY installation process or to keep up with the build stages while working with a professional installer, these checklists will help make sure you know where you stand with your new fireplace every step of the way.
STAGE 1 - Fireplace Design and Planning
Before you can begin construction, there are quite a few things to take into consideration. First, ensure the fireplace you are planning to install fits into your overall design for the space. You'll also want to make sure that the installation can be completed according to the safety requirements of the fireplace manufacturer. Any structural modifications to the home must be completed to local code standards. To ensure your dream fireplace is permitted in your area, you'll want to reach out to the local code office and your HOA, if applicable.
Installing a fireplace into a purpose-built chimney chase or an enclosure along a wall is less invasive. These types of installations typically require no major modifications to the home. With these, the main concern is determining the size and appearance of the chase or enclosure.
If you are working with a contractor or installer, be sure to fully discuss all the intended materials you intend to utilize for the installation. Some of these materials include framing, sheathing, insulation board, and your preferred surface materials like brick or stone. You'll need to determine the total measurements the chase supplies will add up to. It's incredibly easy to end up with something larger than expected, especially if you want to add stone or brick.
In cases where the chase is larger than anticipated, you may have to choose a smaller fireplace to compensate. This is especially true for fireplace installations alongside windows, in a corner, or directly against an adjacent wall.
For installations within the floor footprint of the home, you'll also have to consider ceiling joists and rafters. You can often route smaller direct-vent piping around joists or rafters without modification. But, larger wood-burning vent pipe will not be able to meet clearances around joists or rafters. These installations will require the joists and rafters to be cut and boxed to allow a clear path for venting. You will also need to consider hidden gas and electrical lines in your planned vent route.
The same process applies to interior fireplace installations. You must plan and settle on dimensions for an interior fireplace enclosure.
For the planning stage of both interior and exterior installations, we recommend using painter's tape applied to the wall. This will help mark the dimensions and create a visual idea of the size.
Additionally, for vented models, you'll need to determine where the vent termination will be. Depending on the fireplace and fuel type, it can either be above the roof or on an outside wall. Since obstructions can alter the entire installation, you need to discover them early.
There are also gas line considerations. You may not already have a gas line run to the area you would like your fireplace. Further, if you will need electricity routed to your new fireplace, you'll need to have a plan for that.
Now that you know what's needed for installation, eFireplaceStore has a checklist for the design and planning stage:
STAGE 2 - Permits
Now that you have your design plans in place, it's time to get your permit in order. Requirements do vary by area. So, it is always in your best interest to check with the local authorities for the final say.
For rural areas without dedicated town offices, it is best to check with the county offices. Many rural areas will not require a permit for work being done on the interior of the home.
Suburban or urban areas will have dedicated town or city offices. And, they will usually have stricter requirements. This is especially likely when it comes to any electrical or plumbing work that may need to be done. As is often the case for fireplace installations, many offices will waive the need for a licensed electrician or plumber. That is if you're using an existing plumbing line or electrical circuit. Others will require a licensed trade for that part of the work, no matter the circumstances. Be sure to stay in close communication with your contractor or installer if they are handling the permit application.
eFireplaceStore has put together a handy quick reference list for permit acquisition:
STAGE 3 - Job Site Preparation
Doing any sort of structural work in an existing home can be incredibly disruptive of daily life. From the cutting up of drywall, to sawdust, chunks of brick, not to mention the sounds of a construction site, you can expect to see a great deal of mess with any fireplace installation.
Not to mention, you've got all the components to your new fireplace to bring to the installation site. These pieces can be quite heavy and hard to move without damaging surroundings.
eFireplaceStore has your home's cleanliness in mind. So, we've come up with several questions for you to ask your installation professional:
STAGE 4 - Framing
Now, we're onto the actual installation phases of your new fireplace. You have the permit you need, your design plans, and all your materials have arrived on site. Your installer is ready to begin work.
They'll start by pouring a concrete footer for an external chase or enclosure. Then, they will nail the first pieces of framing lumber into place. By this point, if your installer has performed well on the first three stages, you can let your guard down a bit and let them focus on their work.
Still, you'll want to check in from time to time to see how they're handling the job. Observing the initial framing of the chase or enclosure will show how they'll handle the rest of the job.
If the installer shows care and attention to detail at the framing stage, such focus will likely carry through to the remaining stages of the job. However, if they seem to be uncollected or clumsy while working, it's a good idea to keep a closer eye on the project as it progresses.
Note: Most installers are happy to have a customer who wants to have a hand in designing the fireplace installation. After all, it's important for you to understand what you are getting. But, when installation begins, many installers will find it disruptive to be micromanaged. This is not necessarily because they are trying to hide something. But, it can have an adverse effect. It can make them hyper-vigilant and lead to early fatigue and careless errors.
For this reason, we highly recommend limiting involvement once work has begun. Yet, there are some observations that you can make when the installer is absent. Here are some observations you can make when they're on a supply run, lunch break, or at the end of the workday.
These framing observations are as follows:
Be sure to bring any perceived issues to the installer's attention as soon as you notice them. This is because you can often clear things up with a quick discussion or explanation.
This is also a crucial point in the process. At this stage, you'll want to decide if you want to continue using the present installer. If the quality of workmanship is clearly not going to meet your standards and cannot be corrected after requests to do so, now is the time to decide to part ways with the company.
There are many industries where someone can "sell" their workmanship. But, when the job starts, it sometimes becomes clear that the true level of skill required isn't there. It is easier to stop early in the process and find a different installer, rather than keeping silent and dealing with unwanted results.
STAGE 5 - Unit and Venting Installation
Once the framing is in place, it's normal for the unit and all related venting to be installed. While it can be difficult for the untrained eye to see issues at this step, we do offer a few guiding points.
eFireplaceStore suggests looking at the following:
STAGE 6 - Gas Line and Electrical Installation
Depending on the installation location and access to gas or electrical lines, this stage may occur before stage 5. But, ideally this stage comes after the fireplace and any venting goes into place. If this stage comes after the appliance is in place, it means that the installer will not need estimates for gas or electrical lines. In some cases, there simply isn't enough space to install the gas line after the fact.
Electrical lines are more flexible. And, you can access them with less difficulty after the unit is in place.
In the case of wood burning models, you will only need electrical wiring if you plan to have a blower installed. The same applies to a gas line. You will only need a gas line routed if you plan to have a gas log lighter installed.
Either way, eFireplaceStore suggests using the following checklist:
STAGE 7 - Initial Burn
This is both the most important and most exciting stage. It is when your installer will light your first fire and test the installation of the fireplace. Depending on your fuel type, eFireplaceStore has two checklists:
Note: Take note of any issues with either fuel list that may come up. You want to mention it to your installer immediately. Most installers will see issues before the customer. But, a sharp-eyed customer may notice something out of sorts first. Because smaller issues can be overlooked, now is the time to make the corrections. You'll want to do this before the fireplace is completely closed in. A final inspection may be needed for code enforcement to sign off on the installation as well.
STAGE 8 - Enclosure Work
Depending on the installer and the materials being used, he or she may call a subcontractor to complete the finishing tasks.
The following is a good list of items to take note of as the installation proceeds:
STAGE 9 - Final Inspection
Now your new fireplace is installed and essentially ready to go! It's time for the final review of the installation. eFireplaceStore highly recommends testing your unit. You should build a wood fire (wood burning) or turn on the fireplace (gas burning). You will want to allow it to burn for the length of the inspection. This will create some time for confirmation of proper installation.
Final Inspection Checklist:
With this, you can light a fire, enjoy your new fireplace, and put the final touches on the new star of your living space.
As always, we here at eFireplaceStore are ready and willing to assist at any point in the lifespan of your fireplace. You can reach our NFI Certified Techs by emailing us using the email support button found on our Contact Us page. You can also call 1-800-203-1642 Monday through Friday, 9:30am-6:30pm Eastern.