SYRACUSE — As cooler weather arrives, thoughts turn to warmth and comfort at home for the fall and winter seasons. What could be cozier and more inviting than a fireplace?
Getting your furnace a checkup is a good step toward that goal of a warm, cozy home, but if your basement is still cool with just one furnace to warm up two floors, something more may be needed. Rather than install a second furnace to heat the downstairs family room or office, you might think of adding a fireplace instead.
And if you already have a fireplace in the basement family room, it can be converted to work as a second furnace.
Ryan Rentmeister, one of the owners of Rentmeister Total Home Service, calls everything to do with fireplaces “hearth products.” And as a dealer in hearth products, the business will install new or update old fireplaces.
Imagine curling up to read next to your cozy fireplace this winter.
“We install high-efficiency fireplaces. They are 99.9 percent efficient, with no outside vents and no electricity,” Rentmeister said.
The newest fireplaces have a definite advantage becaue they can be used in place of a second furnace to heat a home — and they have thermostats similar to those on furnaces.
“My wife likes using ours,” said Rentmeister. And one of his customers uses the fireplace 10 to 12 hours a day, instead of cranking up the furnace.
When doing a conversion, the old fireplace is left in most of the time, but it can also be taken out. And a masonry fireplace is even easier to convert, Rentmeister said.
“Basements are almost always cold, so now people like to have two furnaces to kick up more comfort,” he said. “A fireplace is cheaper than a second furnace, and if the power goes out, it is a secondary heat source.”
A wide variety of fireplace options are available, including outdoor fireplaces that can extend the use of the patio and yard into the cooler season.
Linear fireplaces have a very contemporary look, while the more ornate, traditional fireplace is also popular.
And the cost isn’t as much as one might think. Retrofitting, replacing or installing a new fireplace can cost as little as $600, ranging up to around $1,500 for one that’s more difficult to do. Rentmeister said the cost can go as high as $5,000 to $10,000, but that is not typical.
“I think the first thing that people need to know is that fireplaces are not that expensive. Years ago there was a lot of digging and foundations,” he said. But the installation is much easier now.
“In most homes, we can do one in half a day.”
Fireplaces can be installed virtually wherever the homeowner wants one. Some choose a wall-mounted fireplace, while others prefer cabinets that are all finished and preassembled. There are many different faces that can be used to suit the customer’s personal taste, and they can be installed on an outside wall or anywhere in the home.
“It is a great secondary heat source,” Rentmeister said. “A 1,200-square-foot home on two levels can be heated by a fireplace. It’s no problem at all. And it looks good.”
Maintenance is another thing to consider.
“Any fireplace has to be maintained and serviced once a year. If you catch problems early, the repairs don’t become expensive,” he said.
Very few people have wood-burning fireplaces installed because they can’t use them on yellow or red burn days. The gas fireplaces burn clean, so they can be used every day.
“The problem with wood is that it is a mess. You have to haul wood and clean out the ashes and have the chimney swept every year. And homeowners insurance is higher with a wood fireplace,” Rentmeister said.
A wood-burning fireplace also costs more, usually from $2,000 to $3,000 just for the fireplace, he said.
Rentmeister has a new showroom at 1956 W. 2250 South. You can also call 801-773-6900 for information or visit them at their website:www.rentmeister.com/fireplaces.