Options for Revitalizing Your Old Fireplace

Are you unhappy with the look and feel of your current fireplace? Had you always dreamed of having a fireplace, but are disappointed with the one you ended up with when you bought your home?

It may seem surprising, as fireplaces are primary focal points in living rooms, family rooms, and dens in many homes across the United States, but it’s often a home’s builder that chooses the fireplace, not the people who will be living with it. And some fireplaces have just “always been there” in older homes where no one is sure who chose the fireplace or even how it was used over time.

No matter your fireplace’s history, you know that you don’t like your fireplace today. It’s drafty when not in use, and you rarely use it because it’s such a hassle and doesn’t work well. Perhaps it’s completely nonfunctional. But you want to like your fireplace and use it often!

As we prepare for the upcoming colder weather, it’s time to finally do something about your existing, disappointing fireplace. And the good news is that you have several options for restoring or revitalizing it depending on the type of fireplace you have now. Let’s take a closer look.

Start over with a new fireplace

If your current masonry fireplace does not work at all or is just plain ugly, you may consider totally rebuilding it. This process can turn into a major construction project, though, and should not be undertaken without weighing the cost and inconvenience factors, which can be extraordinary.

To understand what may be involved with completely replacing your fireplace, you must first consider a number of factors, including:

Can you deal with many weeks of noise and dirt in your home?

A project of this type involves dirty and disruptive demolition work before rebuilding can begin and will likely require a budget well into the thousands of dollars. You may also need to secure building permits and schedule inspections by code officials depending upon your locality, which can add time and cost to your project, as well.

Knowing the answers to some basic questions about your fireplace will give you a sense of what may be involved with demolition and reconstruction efforts.

What type of masonry fireplace do you have?

  • Does it vent to a chimney that serves just that fireplace (common with wood-burning fireplaces in homes with only one fireplace), or does it vent to a chimney that’s shared with other fireplaces, stoves, or mechanical heating systems?
  • Does it utilize a chimney at all?
  • Is it a wood-burning fireplace that you want to convert to electric or gas?
  • Is it a gas fireplace that is ugly and letting cold air into your house? (These are much easier to replace.)

The history of the fireplace

This is somewhat related to your fireplace’s type, as gas and electric fireplaces only became commonplace in American homes in the second half of the 20th century. If you have an older house that was built with a fireplace before the mid-1950s, it was likely originally wood-burning or coal-burning, even if it was updated later with an insert. Knowing the history of your fireplace will help you understand whether structural changes to your home may need to take place if you’re planning a total fireplace rebuilding project. This is rare, but not out of the realm of possibility.

Not everyone knows the full history of their fireplace, but hearth and fireplace experts like us here at LanChester Grill & Hearth can help you look for helpful clues to determine how your fireplace was used in the past. Knowing this history will allow you to assess whether simply replacing an old insert might be a better solution than embarking on a full replacement. Cosmetic upgrades can be made to the hearth area, as well, which may make your old fireplace look totally different without a total rebuilding effort!

Retrofit your existing fireplace

Compared to all of the considerations and potential costs involved with entirely replacing your existing fireplace, retrofitting your fireplace may seem like an impossibly easy solution. But it really is a simple, often one-day process in many cases! We pride ourselves on retrofitting fireplaces quickly and conveniently for our customers.

Depending upon the location of your fireplace in your home and what your home’s exterior is made from, our fireplace experts can either retrofit from behind or from inside your home while creating very little mess.

Does your house have vinyl siding?

Retrofitting a fireplace with a new gas insert on homes that have vinyl siding, as many in our service area around Lancaster, PA and Wilmington, DE do, is a simple process. It requires opening up the back of the fireplace from the outside and installing a unit identical in size to the one that was installed previously. Once that step is complete, we replace the vinyl siding, so you’ll never know it was ever removed. That means the aesthetics of your home’s exterior are not affected!

Is your house made of brick, stone, or stucco?

In these well-built homes, we utilize a process that involves cutting up your old gas-burning unit and replacing it with a slightly smaller unit that fits into the space left behind. Trim is added, as needed, to provide a flawless finish. This process is safe and also creates very little mess. In fact, we typically don’t even need to touch up paint on the walls when we’re done.

The One-Day Fireplace

As we touched on previously, our fireplace retrofit process can often be completed in a single day. But, did you know that we can dramatically change the look of your fireplace’s façade, too? And often in very little time?

If you don’t like your current mantel or the overall look of your fireplace, we can update it with brick, stone, or even custom cabinetry without the hassle of extensive demolition work. This works even if you’re turning a formerly wood-burning fireplace into a gas fireplace.

Our fireplace experts will be happy to assess your project needs and advise you on the expected timeline. We may be in and out of your home in just one day!

Ready to talk retrofit options for your old, disappointing fireplace? Get in touch today for a friendly quote on making your fireplace dreams come true. Or stop in at our showroom in Gap, PA for fireplace inspiration.

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