Historic Homes are beautiful, especially their interior details. My most favorite feature to check out each time I tour a home is the living room fireplace. The amount of differentiation from one home to another is astounding, and I have never seen two homes alike. But for as beautiful as they are, they have one major problem….function in today’s world.
Historic Homes in Minnesota, at least those not log cabins, usually contain coal burning fireplaces. As we all know, coal is no longer an environmentally good choice when it comes to heating your home, and fireplaces are no longer used as the sole heating source either. Another problem arises because most coal burning fireplaces and their attached chimney cannot support the act of burning wood. So a homeowner of an old home with coal burners is left no choice but to cover up the opening with a fireplace cover, as shown in the photo.
But there is hope out there for all historic homeowners in Minneapolis and Saint Paul! I am actually surprised that no one has heard of this option because of the numerous people I have mentioned it to, I always get a “I didn’t know that” answer. If you have a coal burning fireplace and available gas service to your home, you can now have a gas burning fireplace and the ability to actually use the “artwork” which is taking up a wall of your room.
Grate Fires, an online business that specializes in replacement gas fireplace units for older homes, has a fantastic ventless gas unit that is small enough to fit any tiny Victorian fireplace. The picture above is the Ashbery, their smallest unit, measuring 19 inches in front, 13 inches in back, and 9.5 inches deep. You can get a remote control to the unit to turn it on, which I think is a fantastic option.
Now the important thing to remember is that this is a ventless unit. It is made to fit a coal burning fireplace that cannot accommodate wood. What happens is that the chimney will have to be capped outside and inside, as you won’t need it anymore. This not only will save on your electric bill from any cold drafts, but it will allow you to have a gas burning fireplace without the hassle of opening a damper every time you want to use it.
The only thing you will really need to consider is piping in the gas. If you have an old basement that isn’t used, you could easily pipe where you need the gas to go. When we rehabbed a 4000 square foot Queen Anne, with six fireplaces, we piped gas to all six so an Ashbery would fit in each one. Now each room could utilize a fireplace and not just have a big wall decoration on one side of the room. When installed, the fireplaces look amazing. The nice thing to is that if you order multiple units, you get a nice discount!
So if you are tired of looking at a beautiful historic fireplace with lovely tile surround, why not check out a ventless gas burner made to look like the original coal burner that came with your home a hundred years ago. Adding one or more is a great selling point, too, when it comes time to sell your historic mansion.