What to Expect When you're Expecting a Fireplace

If you’re Canadian-raised like me, you won’t be surprised that fireplaces are a staple to the design of any Canadian home. Whether wood, gas, electric or ethanol bio-flame, a fireplace keeps you feeling cozy and warm when the colder weather arrives.


I’m Canadian born and raised to the core:

Personally, I LOVE a traditional wood burning fireplace. There’s something so comforting and heart warming about the crackle of a fire and the smell of wood burning. Some of my favourite childhood memories are associated with fireplaces. My mother always had our living room fireplace roaring in the winter - be it a nice quiet Sunday night or a slavish dinner party. My father also prided himself in creating HUGE log fires at our country home after a long day on the ski slopes.


Fast forward to present day…. When we bought our first house, I was so excited because it had a real wood burning fireplace in the living room - it was one of the main reasons I fell in love with the house.

However, after getting the keour dream home, we quickly realized that maybe this fireplace had actually not been used in a very long time. So we brought in some help - after several contractor visits we determined that the masonry brick fireplace didn’t have the  proper flue pipe to burn wood. Not to mention that it had been closed years before and the chimney currently vented our hot water heater.


After months (and two Christmases) of living with a fireplace full of candles, I decided to revisit the idea of a gas insert. Following the debate with my husband of contemporary versus traditional, we settled on a traditional gas insert from Valor

I resisted the idea of a gas fireplace for a long time BUT in the end it was the best decision.. Now our living room is the coziest room in our home and guests mistake it for the real thing!


(Here they are installing the direct vent for our new gas insert. The old chimney had already been used to vent the furnace.)


Here are some facts I learned through my journey.

Inspect the desired location

  • When you decide where to place a fireplace, be it a new location or pre-existing, prior to selecting or installing any fireplace your home needs to be properly inspected. A professional will know what type of fireplace your home can cater to. Also, each type of fireplace, gas, wood or electric, has individual surrounding specifications. For example, in my home, our hot water heater was being vented through my chimney, therefore we could not have our fireplace venting through it too.


Using your Fireplace for Heat Efficiency.

  • If you are using your fireplace for heat efficiency, you should look into fireplaces that are thermostat-controlled or those that are self-modulated. This will ensure that your room remains consistently warm without overheating. 

    Extra tip: Do not rely on your fireplace to heat up more than 1 room.

First Use

  • Something that isn’t often advertised when you purchase a gas fireplace is that during the first time you turn it on, your home may smoke up and smell like chemicals for a few hours. This is normal, but I definitely advised that you open your windows and leave your home for about 5 hours.

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  • Fireplace maintenance is dependent on the type of fireplace you purchase - some require more TLC than others over the years. One thing that is often forgotten is that every fireplace has a different effect on its surroundings. You will need to not only maintain the fireplace, but also clean, polish or paint the surroundings — especially if you have a lovely wood burning fireplace.

I hope my own fireplace story and tips will help you when you decide to bring warmth into your home.