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Add a Fireplace to your Basement

If you’re planning to renovate your basement, a fireplace is a great idea! It can make up for the lack of natural light, create a cozy retreat, add atmosphere to your room, supply a comfortable source of heat, provide a focal point in your basement space, and increase your home’s value. No flue or chimney in place? No problem! Thanks to new technology, you no longer need to construct an expensive substructure for a fireplace.

Before you choose and install your fireplace, there are many factors to consider. Think about the amount of heating you wish to achieve, your budget, the maintenance you are willing to undertake, the design of your home and the likely amount of usage. No matter what your thoughts regarding these considerations, there are many great choices for your basement fireplace.

Fireplaces that work in a basement:

  1. Direct Vent Fireplaces: Using a ridged or flexible pipe, a direct vent fireplace is vented through the wall of your basement and draws fresh air from outside. This improves efficiency, maintains air quality, and distributes heat evenly throughout your room. The flexible vent system allows installers to maneuver around joists, beams and wall supports making a direct vent fireplace easy to install and allowing you to be creative regarding location. There are two main types.
  • Direct Vent Gas Fireplaces can use an existing gas line, are low cost and are 75 to 99% energy efficient. They feature ceramic logs with the appearance of wood and tiny gas holes that mimic flames giving you the aesthetics of a wood burning fire. No wood to lug. No ashes to dispose. A gas fireplace requires only the push of a button to turn it on and often comes with a remote control unit. You have the option to install a thermostat that can control the flame size and heat output (from a whisper to a roaring fire) allowing you to maintain a specific temperature in your basement. A battery backup option ensures the fireplace will light during a power outage and an optional built-in fan ensures your room heats up in a hurry. You can decorate the façade of your gas fireplace with the material of your choice (ceramic tile, wood, stone, brick, etc.) A gas fireplace requires installation by a licensed professional and will result in an increase in your monthly utility costs. 
  • Direct Vent Pellet Stoves burn wood pellets (made from compacted sawdust) and push warm air into your room with a small fan. They burn hotter and cleaner than traditional wood fireplaces and generate more heat than similarly sized gas fireplaces. They are certified by the EPA to be 70 to 83% energy efficient. A medium size stove, which heats approximately 1750 square feet, is sufficient for most basements. Though there is a real flame, pellet stoves pose virtually no fire hazard and are safe to burn when you are out of the room. They feature an auto-pellet feeder system so you can set it and forget it. They require the purchase and storage of pellets and removal of ashes after several uses. A pellet stove won’t work during a power outage as the mechanism that feeds the pellets requires electricity to operate. They take up significant space and must sit on a hearth make of stone or concrete. 
  1. Electric Fireplaces create warmth by using electricity to heat interior coils and an internal fan to distribute the heat. Though the flame is not real, many models have a lifelike look and feel. An electric fireplace requires no venting and is easy to install and operate. Follow the placement instructions, plug it into a standard outlet and flip a switch to ignite the fire. Though they are more cost effective and energy efficient than central heating, they do not generate as much heat as a gas fireplace and will increase your electric bill. In case your room becomes too warm, most models allow you to turn off the heating element while keeping the “flickering flame.” Many versions come with a remote control unit. Electric fireplaces require little or no maintenance. They are the safest option for homes with children or pets as they are not hot to the touch and do not produce emissions. With a range of designs available, electric fireplaces are highly customizable and have great flexibility in regards to location of installation. 

Other considerations:

No matter what type of fireplace you decide upon, seek the assistance of a contractor who specializes in basement finishing. He will be familiar with the rules, regulations and permits pertaining to fireplace installation in a basement. He will provide ideas, experience, and expertise to help you create the space you desire. 

Add a fireplace to your basement and enjoy the heat and ambiance. Achieve the look of a wood burning fireplace with less cost, lower maintenance and greater efficiency. Whether you decide upon a direct vent gas fireplace, a pellet stove or an electric fireplace, you will enhance your space and add value to your home.  For all your basement renovation needs trust the Calgary basement experts, Econo Basements. Call them at (403) 768-0256 or email

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