Do You Need a Chimney To Have a Fireplace?


While chimneys were commonplace in older homes and apartment buildings, they’re on the decline in recent years. In 2018, only 41% of homes were built with a traditional fireplace including a chimney. 

If your home doesn’t have a chimney, does that mean that you can’t have a fireplace? Will you have to take on the cost of building a chimney in your home in order to enjoy the warmth and glow of a fire?

The short answer is no, you don’t have to have a chimney to add a fireplace to your home. However, you will need to select the right kind of fireplace to use safely without a chimney.

Read on to learn more about the kinds of fireplaces you can use in a home without a chimney.

When Is a Chimney Necessary?

The purpose of a chimney is to remove the byproducts of burning fossil fuels or materials that create hot gases when burned. For example, one of the most important functions of a chimney is to remove carbon monoxide from your fireplace so that you can enjoy the heat without breathing in this scentless, dangerous gas. 

If you want a wood-burning fireplace, you will need a chimney. There is no way to remove carbon monoxide from a wood-burning fireplace other than a chimney. The good news is that these days, there are other options that mimic the look and feel of a wood-burning fireplace and don’t burn wood or require a chimney. 

Electric Fireplaces Without a Chimney

Electric fireplaces are a go-to choice for homeowners who don’t have a chimney because they don’t require any source of ventilation. Some of the smaller electric fireplaces won’t require remodeling or building, at all. That said, inset electric fireplaces are a popular choice that better mimic the look and feel of a wood-burning or gas fireplace, and this will require some building to create a cavity or alcove to install the fireplace in. 

Is an Electric Fireplace Right for You?

Electric fireplaces are ideal for any homeowner looking for a quick and easy install. Electric fireplaces give you the freedom to add a fireplace to any room, so long as there are available outlets. If you don’t want to do any remodeling, there are electric fireplaces that fit the bill.

However, electric fireplaces do have higher running costs than many gas fireplaces. Plus, they don’t create real flames (although modern features can create the appearance of flames).

Choose an electric fireplace if your top priorities are:

  • ease of installation
  • freedom to choose where to install your fireplace

If having real flames is a top priority, than you may want to consider other options.

Balanced Flue Gas Fireplaces Without a Chimney

While some gas fireplaces do require a chimney, specific models and styles do not. A balanced flue gas fireplace won’t require a chimney thanks to a glass panel that seals the gas and resulting fumes, rather than allowing them to escape into the room the fireplace is installed in. In order to install a balanced flue gas fireplace, you will need to build a double exhaust pipe into an external wall so that the air (and fumes) inside of the fireplace get sucked up and expelled outside.

Is a Balanced Flue Gas Fireplace Right for You?

A balanced flue gas fireplace does generate real flames, which can create the ambient feeling many people want from a fireplace. These days, there are tons of different designs and styles to choose from. Plus, balanced flue gas fireplaces have low running costs, which means that you won’t have to pay much to use your fireplace after it’s installed.

That said, installation will take some heavy-lifting. The building required to install a double exhaust pipe won’t take long, but it is a significant project. Plus, you won’t have as much freedom choosing where to install your fireplace, as it needs to connect to an exterior wall. 

Choose a balanced flue gas fireplace if your top priorities are:

  • the ambience created by real flames
  • a wide range of designs and styles
  • low running costs

If you don’t want to undertake a moderate to large building project on, you may want to consider other options.

Flueless Gas Fireplaces Without a Chimney

Another option that won’t require a chimney is a flueless gas fireplace. Rather than requiring that hefty double exhaust pipe, you will simply need to install a ventilation brick on an exterior wall and connect the fireplace, itself, to a pre-existing gas pipe in your home. A catalytic converter inside of flueless gas fireplaces will actually convert harmful carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide and water vapor, making it safe to use in your home without a chimney.

Is a Flueless Gas Fireplace Right for You?

Because flueless gas fireplaces contain gas rather than releasing gas into your home, they’re one of the most efficient options on the market. Like other gas fireplaces, they do generate real flames and have low running costs. They also don’t require as much building as a balance flue gas fireplace.

Like other gas fireplaces, however, you will need to install a flueless gas fireplace on an external wall. Plus, you will need to meet certain room size requirements in order you use a flueless gas fireplace.

Choose a flueless gas fireplace if your top priorities are:

  • the ambience created by real flames
  • a wide range of designs and styles
  • minimal remodeling required
  • energy efficiency

If you find the location and size restrictions limiting, you may want to consider another option.

Dreifuss Fireplaces Is Delaware Valley’s Source for Premium Fireplaces

Can you install a fireplace in your home even though you don’t have a chimney? The answer is yes! Any home can be outfitted with a fireplace, as long as you choose the appropriate model.

Want to learn more about electric and gas fireplaces? Dreifuss Fireplaces is Delaware Valley’s source for the best fireplaces on the market. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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