Just like permanently fixed homes, manufactured homes can safely have a wood-burning fireplace as long they are properly cleaned and maintained. Debris from burning needs to be cleared after use and the chimney needs to be clear from any obstructions.
However, there are some situations where a fireplace in a manufactured home will not work. Other than safety, let’s take a look at the reasons why a fireplace could or could not work in a manufactured home.
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Can You Put a Fireplace in a Manufactured Home?
Living in a manufactured home should not restrict you from having a fireplace. However, there are some restrictions on allowing fireplaces in these types of structures put in place in certain counties and even certain states. The type of fireplace plays a role in this as well. (More on that in just a bit!)
What Types of Fireplaces Are Best for Mobile Homes?
The type of fireplace that you can install in a manufactured home depends on the way the manufactured home is built. The chimney system and air intake system play the largest role. These two will determine whether or not a vent or ventless fireplace is best.
In a site-built home, there are two main types of fireplaces. Masonry fireplaces are the most common type of fireplace – think brick-built. The next most popular type of fireplace is prefabricated – think metal.
Fortunately, many manufactured homes today are produced with a fireplace built into the structure. This is the safest way to have a fireplace in a mobile home. Not only is it all around safer as far as air quality is concerned and containment, but it is more cohesive for interior design.
This would be what we referred to earlier as a “vented” fireplace. There is an air intake and chimney system built into the structure. These can be either gas or wood-burning.
The other type of fireplace is “ventless” or stand-alone. There are so many options available today for ventless fireplaces made just for this purpose.
Pros and Cons to Having a Fireplace in a Mobile Home
Having a fireplace (and using it) is a large commitment when it comes to proper use and maintenance. There is some need-to-know information when it comes to either a chimney fireplace or a stand-alone fireplace.
Let’s start with the cons and get those out of the way:
Indoor air quality can potentially become compromised with a stand-alone fireplace. When heat is produced from the fireplace, some particles and gases are released into the air. While not life-threatening, certain particles and gases released from these fireplaces can irritate the lungs and cause long term problems from heavy exposure.
Fireplaces in general are not environmentally friendly either. Since there are inevitably gases and particles released into the air, it is not the cleanest or most efficient form of “getting warm.” In fact, a traditional built-in chimney, on average, is only about 20% efficient. The other 80% of the heat goes up and out of the chimney!
Today, there are options for a cleaner energy burn, including some gas-powered inserts available for stand-alone and built-in fireplaces. They are even EPA-approved to ensure the quality of the product.
Property damage…and not the type of property damage you may be thinking. We can probably all agree that fire damage is the first thing that comes to mind with a fireplace – whether built-in or stand-alone. Yes, this does occur. However, more common than actual fire are mold damage and soot. (these are more common with stand-alone, ventless fireplaces). Soot is messy, and it really can get into and onto everything, including ceilings and furniture fabric.
Another major and potentially dangerous con is combustion or a small explosion. Though not likely, it is still a possibility that needs to be considered. There is also always a risk of fire spread and/or total loss of property.
Smoke can also get out of hand if there is an issue with the air system connected to the fireplace (aka chimney system). Smoke damage can be disastrous to the manufactured home and all items inside, including furniture, clothing, and electronic items. Lingering smoke can directly affect your health if you breathe in it.
If the manufactured home suffers any fire or smoke damage it is important to act quickly and contact a professional to enter the premises and start the clean up – and put out the fire if it is still going when they get there.
Cleaning up smoke damage is an intensive process and should not be handled by an individual and should be left to the hands of professionals. They are equipped with tools and knowledge to properly proceed after this type of incident. They will follow the IEQ or Indoor Environmental Quality standards set in place by the government.
They do not offer a great return on investment. This includes both a financial and time investment. While in use, the fireplace will require daily and weekly maintenance to ensure that it is properly cleaned and working correctly.
When not in use for long periods (the off-season), it is a good idea to look after annual maintenance. This wood-burning fireplace cleaning guide states easy-to-follow steps for yearly cleaning. They share that before you get started with cleaning, you should “Allow adequate time for the fireplace to cool down (including ash) and use eye protection, gloves, and respirator/mask.”
Now that we have listed off the potential cons of having a fireplace in a manufactured home, let’s take a look at some of the positives!
Fireplaces are associated with comfort and closeness, oftentimes even snuggling. The positive connotations and feelings of relaxation that come from a fireplace are reasons to consider having one built into a manufactured home or hanging out around the stand-alone fireplace!
They are energy independent and save money on the power bill. Being able to burn your own fire to generate heat separates you from having to depend on an energy source and additionally pay for that energy source.
You never have to worry about staying warm if the power goes out. Not to mention you have a light source when nighttime rolls around. Flashlights are still handy to have for occasions like this, but you would, without a doubt, have the firelight. You will also have a fireplace to use for cooking food. This is a big deal when there is no power, and it is freezing outside.
We take for granted all of the food items we cook in the oven, on the stovetop, and in the microwave, so having the option to warm up certain food items (and water too!) is certainly a pro to having a fireplace.
When a horrible storm hits, you never have to worry about waiting for the power company to fix the outage, but instead, you can stay warm on your own terms. Bonus if you live on a property that is heavily wooded, you would have a virtually endless supply of firewood.
They can heat a large area of the house with little effort. One of the best things about a fireplace is how cost-effective they are in comparison to the area of a home that they can heat.
In the meantime, enjoy the sound of this birchwood crackling fireplace:
- Ventless Products State by State Code Information (ventless-gas-fireplaces.com)
- Anatomy of Your Fireplace – Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)
- The Pros (and Unexpected Cons) Of Having a Fireplace in Your Home | Apartment Therapy
- Are Ventless & Vent Free Fireplaces Dangerous? (efireplacestore.com)
- 6 Wood Fireplace Maintenance Tasks | Regency (regency-fire.com)
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Fireplace Tips, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Chimney Safety Institute of North America (CSIA): The CSIA is your BEST resource for fireplace and chimney safety at home. They’re a non-profit governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals.
- Self-Sufficiency and Off-Grid: If you’re like me and passionate about off-grid and self-sufficiency, see my number 1 resource—Abundance Plus. Check out their Frugal Homesteading Course on growing 90% of your own food. Get 7-days free and 10% off with the code: TYLER10