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Do Fireplaces Have to Be on the Outside Wall?

Fireplaces do not have to be on an outside wall. Fireplaces are usually installed on outside walls to make ventilation easier. This fact doesn’t mean that you have to install the fireplace on an outside wall. You just have to install the fireplace on a wall where there is a provision for proper ventilation. 

But does this apply to every type of fireplace? What about wood-burning fireplaces that produce a lot of smoke and fume, can they also be installed on interior walls? Well, Let’s find out. 

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Do Fireplaces Have to Be on the Exterior Wall?

a house with a chimney on the outside wall

A fireplace doesn’t have to be on an exterior wall. Fireplaces are usually installed on exterior walls because exterior walls make ventilation easier than interior walls. But this isn’t always the case anymore because technological advancements have made it possible to install a fireplace on an interior wall and still be guaranteed proper ventilation. 

So does this mean you can install both gas fireplaces and wood-burning fireplaces on an exterior wall? Let’s dive deeper to find out. 

What About Wood-Burning Fireplaces?

Wood-burning fireplaces are usually installed on an exterior wall. It’s possible to install a wood-burning fireplace on an interior wall, but it’s usually not advised because wood-burning fireplaces need proper ventilation to draw outside air to feed the fire and get rid of the combustion exhaust.  

However, if you want to install the wood-burning fireplace on an interior wall, you need to provide the wood-burning fireplace outside ventilation through power venting technology. 

To know more about wood-burning fireplaces, check out this post by Woodheat. They go into detail about anything and everything you need to know about wood-burning fireplace installation and ventilation. But what about gas fireplaces? Do they need to be installed on outside walls?

Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces do not need to be installed on an outside wall. Modern gas fireplaces can be installed anywhere in the home, whether it be on an interior wall or an exterior wall. This is because gas fireplaces are usually well insulated. Additionally, since there is no combustion in most gas fireplaces, gas fireplaces can be installed either on an interior wall or an exterior wall. 

Gas fireplaces, due to their design, are the safest fireplace to install in a home. The ventilation is easy, and the fireplace is packed with heat shields which means you can install the fireplace virtually anywhere in the house. 

However, while most gas fireplaces do not need heavy ventilation, direct vent gas fireplaces, on the other hand, are usually installed on outside walls because the fireplace needs outside air. To know more about gas fireplaces, check out this post by Bobvilla. 

How Far Does a Fireplace Have to Be Away From the Wall?

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), a fireplace must be 36 inches away from bare walls. If the walls around the fireplace are protected by a heat-resistant material or some form of insulation, the fireplace can be less than 36 inches from the wall. However, a good rule of thumb is to leave at least 36 inches between the fireplace and the wall

Before installing a fireplace, you should check the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the design and the installation of the fireplace. Many fireplaces designed today can be installed as close as 6 inches from the wall. This is because these fireplaces have built-in heat shields that absorb the heat from the fireplace and protect the walls from catching fire. Fireplaces designed with heat shields are termed “listed fireplaces”. Listed fireplaces have been subjected to laboratory tests to ensure the needed space between the fireplace and the wall. 

 Leaving less than the recommended space between your fireplace and the wall is like sending a direct invite to the fire department. Interior walls usually are finished with different materials such as paint, drywall, molding, and the likes. Many of these materials are highly flammable and can start to burn when exposed to heat levels of about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is even a low temperature for most fireplaces. 

Wood-burning fireplaces, for instance, can reach temperatures over 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and at that point, the walls will begin to burn. It is usually better to leave more than the recommended space to be on the safe side. 

Can You Put a Fireplace in a House That Doesn’t Currently Have One?

You can put a fireplace in a house that doesn’t currently have one. Installing a fireplace in a house that wasn’t built with one is very possible. Through successful planning and execution, you can put a fireplace in your home and the fireplace will work just fine. 

Having a fireplace in your house can add style and comfort to the home, especially if you live in chilly regions. Many of us would like to have a fireplace in our house, but the disappointing reality is that not every house comes with a fireplace. The bright side to this is that you can put a fireplace in your house even if the house wasn’t built with one. But putting a fireplace in your house isn’t a task you just take on. There are different things to know before you install a fireplace in a house, so let’s take a closer look. 

Before you install a fireplace in your house, you should know:

  • Your area’s building codes. You should check with a building constructor or consult your area’s building code before installing a fireplace in your home. State and local authorities have different rules regarding fireplace installations. The building code of your area will have instructions and rules regarding the installation of fireplaces, such as the required height of a chimney and if wood-burning fireplaces are allowed. You wouldn’t want to be fined or stopped from using your fireplace after you already spent hundreds of dollars to install it.
  • The best fireplace for your house. There are so many types of fireplaces out there to choose from. Each with its unique design, build, and size. You can decide to buy modern fireplaces or go for a traditional fireplace with a chimney. Modern fireplaces include the gas fireplace and wood-burning fireplaces. These fireplaces are easy and quick to install. For a modern fireplace, you can finish the whole installation and start to use your fireplace in one weekend. 

However, if you want a traditional stone or masonry fireplace, that is a much bigger task that will cost you more. You also need to know the required size dimensions of the fireplace you want to buy, as well as the required design, color, shape, and weight. Overall, only you can pick the best fireplace for your house.

  • Where to put the fireplace. Since your home doesn’t have a fireplace originally, you need to know where you want to have the fireplace. The placement of the fireplace also depends on the type of fireplace you choose. While small gas fireplaces can fit in almost anywhere in the home, wood-burning fireplaces would most likely be installed on the outside wall. 
  • Your area’s electrical codes. Fireplaces do not rely heavily on electricity. Many fireplaces are either gas fireplaces or wood-burning fireplaces that can be used without electricity. However, if you would like to install other accessories like a fireplace blower and the likes, you should know your area’s electrical codes regarding fireplace installation. 

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

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