The fireplace is a great anchor point for any room and can act as the perfect focal element for your guests’ attention and the interior design of the space as a whole. Indeed, a fireplace creates a far more cosy and welcoming atmosphere, whether you are having a quiet time at home with your family or inviting friends over for a lively gathering. So, if you have a room with an old fireplace that is no longer in use, it may be worth looking into restoring it to its former glory.
Nowadays, people have plenty of options ranging from avant-garde to antique fireplaces, depending on their personal preferences, lifestyle, and the interior design style they are going for. Many homes may already have a fireplace installed that has been subsequently plastered over and or blocked up. So, if your property has a chimney breast with alcoves on either side, there is also a fireplace. Repairing it can be a worthwhile endeavour with amazing results once the fire starts crackling.
Before deciding anything, it is crucial to examine the current state of the fireplace you would wish to bring new life to. There may be several different problems that must be addressed in due time. First, do not assume that the fireplace uses wood as a heat source. The previous owners may have modified it to accommodate other sources such as coal, gas, and more. Depending on the heat source, different augmentation could be necessary.
For example, if the fireplace was used to burn coal for a prolonged period of time, the soot could have coated the stone and bricks and had a detrimental effect on their integrity by weakening them. This could manifest in a need for additional TLC for the chimney. Furthermore, the fireplace may have, at some point, been connected to a central air system. If any holes or misalignments have appeared in the bricks or pipes, they will need to be repaired or outright replaced.
Keep in mind that some of the holes may have been plastered over, so you may have to strip completely both the chimney and fireplace to gauge their current state accurately. You may want to consult a professional chimney sweep to inspect the flue, clean it if necessary, and advise on any additional repairs that may be required.
The chosen heat source will determine several essential characteristics of the fireplace. For a classical wood burning, it may be worth considering an insert with doors that go in the fireplace openings. If you wish to retain the ambiance of an open fire while still being energy-efficient, picking glass doors for the fireplace could be the perfect solution.
Alternatively, if the goal is to achieve a style from a specific period, you could add an insert that matches it. Many old or antique fireplaces had cast-iron grates with decorative plates, boosting their heating effectiveness. You may even go for a Victorian or Edwardian style with a one-piece cast iron fireplace that combines the surround and the insert.
A more modern gas insert, on the other hand, will require less maintenance as it eliminates the need to clean either an ashtray or the fireplace doors. If you choose gas logs, they can bring that complete open-fire look with no doors standing in the way. you might also find it beneficial to research and read resources such as a heating oil Q&A and articles about fireplaces to decide what could be potentially the most suitable solution for your house.
The scope and type of the repairs will depend on the chosen heat source. Older brick chimneys may need to be lined and insulated before they are safe for regular wood burning. The benefits of lining and insulating are considerable. They protect from the buildup of dangerous chemicals such as creosote, preserve the structural integrity of the bricks and the mortar, and simply make cleaning the chimney far easier.
Liners come in several different types. The most traditional option uses clay tiles, while cast-in-place concrete provides similar efficiency at a lower price. For gas and other fuel inserts, it may be best to go with inserted metal liners. The state and shape of the chimney will be a crucial factor for the type of flue liner you will need.
After finishing the restoration, running at least several safety tests is essential. If possible, let a fireplace expert check for potential flue leaks or any heat loss. To ensure that no harmful byproducts of the burning process are filling up the room, you may also wish to test the air for chemical or smoke buildup. Afterward, to maintain the fireplace in an optimal state, it needs to be cleaned regularly, especially if you use wood for heat.