wood fire burning in a basement fireplace

Can You Have Fireplace in a Basement? Basement Fireplace Options, Pros and Cons, and Common Issues

Fireplaces are an excellent addition to any home. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they also offer warmth and vibrance. Basements are a wonderful space to include a fireplace. They are perfect for heating multi-level homes and turning your basement into a cozy den.

Are Fireplaces Allowed in Basements?

Basement fireplaces are allowed in many parts of the country. Depending on local regulations by your Homeowners Association (HOA), building code, and local law, you may be able to include a fireplace in your basement.

It’s best to reach out to local regulators before construction to ensure that you will be able to implement a fireplace into your basement in a safe manner. It is also worthwhile to consult with a fireplace specialist to see how a basement fireplace addition could work in your home.

Some factors that may prohibit having a fireplace in a basement are regulations in ventilation, wiring, and chimney space.

Common Basement Fireplace Problems

While basement fireplaces are safe and relatively simple to use, a few common problems can arise.

Cold Air Coming From the Fireplace

One common issue for fireplaces is the presence of a cold draft seeping through the chimney or vent, during winter. When the fireplace gives off more cold air than hot air, it’s time to contact a professional.

Experts at Priddy Chimney Sweeps can offer a solution to this problem and help seal out the cold drafts seeping into your home through your fireplace.

Odor Coming From Fireplace

During the warm and humid months of the year, an odor can sometimes become evident for homes with wood-burning fireplaces. This is likely due to a build-up of creosote in your chimney or vent. Creosote is a fire hazard and can be dangerous if left unattended.

If you smell a weird odor coming from your wood-burning fireplace, you’re likely due for a chimney inspection and sweep by a certified chimney professional.

Basement Smells Like Smoke When Using Main Floor Fireplace

This happens when smoke from the upper fireplace is pulled down the unused basement fireplace flue. This can also happen when there are cracks or holes in the chimney flue liner system.

If you smell smoke in your basement while using the upstairs fireplace, call an expert to resolve the issue.

Water Leaks

Water leaks are sometimes tricky to stop because not all water leaks are from the roof. It’s important to schedule an inspection to see where the leak may be coming from. A fireplace in a basement is a seldom thought of, but common, source.

Types of Fireplaces to Put in Basements

If you’re considering adding a fireplace to your basement, you have a few different fuel options for your basement fireplace including gas, wood pellets, and electricity.

If you choose a gas or wood option, the safest and most efficient option for the fireplace would be a direct vent system.

Direct vent fireplaces utilize rigid or flexible pipes placed into your walls to connect the fresh outside air with your fireplace.

Fresh air from outside of your home is drawn into the firebox, provides oxygen to the flame, and is then vented back out of your home with the fumes from the fire. Cool air from inside your home is drawn into a separate chamber of the fireplace, heated by the flame, then vented back into the room warm and fume free.

Due to their flexibility, there is rarely a need for constructing expensive substructures to your home. Installers can usually maneuver around support posts and joints to efficiently place your vent.

There are two types of direct vent fireplaces: gas and wood.

Direct Vent Gas Fireplace

Direct vent gas fireplaces connect to a gas line to provide heat for your space. They are more efficient than wood-burning fireplaces since gas is a far more efficient fuel. Wood fires generally convert 10 to 30% of the fuel’s energy into heat while gas fires convert 75 to 99% to heat.

Additionally, gas fireplaces do not require much clean up after using the fireplace. There is no need to haul off ashes or replace the wood.

The appearance of direct vent gas fireplaces ranges greatly. You have the option to have a brick, tile, wood, stone, or other for the exterior. Faux logs can also be placed inside the fireplace to offer a more authentic feel.

Direct Vent Wood Pellet Stove

Direct vent pellet stoves are unique in that they use small pellets (compacted sawdust) to work. The pellets are burned,, and a small fan inside the stove pushes the warm air into your home.

They are more energy-efficient than traditional wood fireplaces and offer excellent results when it comes to heating. However, their efficiency in converting fuel into heat still pales in comparison to a gas fireplace.

While they do not work quite the same as traditional wood-burning fireplaces, will still need cleanings now and again depending on the amount of use.

They are safe to use in homes, and you can leave the room without worry while the pellet stove continues to heat your space. They require a stone or concrete block beneath them, and they also need electricity to power their inner fan.

Electric Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces operate by using electricity to heat inner coils and then distribute the heat with a small, internal fan. These fireplaces do not require a ventilation system and, instead, plug directly into the wall.

These fireplaces come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. Though their flame isn’t real, they appear quite life-like, and these fireplaces are safe if you accidentally brush up against it.

Pros and Cons of Each Option

Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons for each type of basement fireplace:

Gas Fireplace Pros and Cons

Gas fireplaces don’t require you to haul wood into your home and don’t need as much routine maintenance as wood fireplaces. They connect to your gas line directly and can work during a power outage.

They are also the most energy efficient of all your options and convert fuel to heat far better than wood or electric fireplaces.

Installation for this type of fireplace can be expensive, depending on the location of the fireplace and the gas line. Additionally, gas fireplaces may not provide the same authentic aesthetic as wood-burning fireplaces.

However, the upfront investment in installation may be worth the savings on energy efficiency and faux logs can be installed to simulate the look of a wood fireplace.

Wood Fireplace Pros and Cons

Wood fireplaces have a classic greatest aesthetic appeal. You can use a wood fireplace for heating and cooking during power outages.

There are disadvantages to wood fireplaces, however.

Firewood must be on hand for this fireplace to work, you cannot leave a wood-burning fireplace unattended, and routine cleaning and maintenance is a must. They are also less efficient at heating a home as compared to gas fireplaces.

Electric Fireplace Pros and Cons

Electric fireplaces are the easiest to install and maintain. You can place them relatively anywhere in your house or apartment unit, and they don’t require a constant eye to be used. There are no fumes and no need to store firewood on hand.

They do not exhibit a real flame, just a picture. They can increase your electric bill drastically depending on the frequency of use and they cannot be used during power outages.

Final Considerations on Basement Fireplaces

When deciding which type of fireplace is right for your basement, it depends upon your personal preference, the efficiency you wish to achieve, and the ease of use/maintenance for your fireplace.

When you’re ready to put a fireplace in a basement, or if you have any other questions about your existing chimney or fireplace, contact Priddy Chimney Sweeps to help you every step of the way!