Installing a TV Over a Fireplace: What You Need to Know

mount a tv

It costs an average of $259 to mount a TV on the wall. Given that TV stands can cost just as much (if not more) and mounting a TV can save space, it makes sense that many homeowners want to mount their flat-screen TVs. 

What if the optimal place to mount a TV is over your fireplace? If this is the case, you’re going to need to know a lot more before you start. 

As one of Philadelphia’s oldest and most trusted fireplace stores, we know a thing or two about electronics and fireplaces. Today, we’re going to share that expertise with you.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about mounting a TV over a fireplace.

Why Is Mounting a TV Above a Fireplace More Complicated?

As we mentioned already, there is a lot more you need to know before mounting a TV over a fireplace than mounting it elsewhere. There are several reasons for this, but the biggest reason has to do with heat output and the impact of high temperatures on electronics and plastic.

TVs will start to overheat at around 125 degrees. No, using your fireplace isn’t going to bring the ambient temperature of the room up this high. However, some fireplaces can emit this level of heat to their immediate surroundings, including the wall above them.

In a nutshell, you’ll want to make thoughtful decisions about mounting your TV above your fireplace because:

  • high temperatures can damage TVs
  • some fireplace facing materials may need repair before mounting a TV
  • puncturing a chimney box with screws is dangerous and expensive to repair
  • mounting a TV too high can negatively impact the viewing experience

Does that mean that all is lost? Not necessarily. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know before mounting a TV above your fireplace.  

Pay Attention to Clearance

First and foremost, you will need to know your fireplace’s clearance. Clearance is the minimum distance that any combustible materials, including mantels and televisions, must be from your fireplace. In other words, if a fireplace has a clearance of two and a half feet, the bottom edge of your TV must be a minimum of two and a half feet above your fireplace, or it will pose a safety risk (and a risk to the television, itself).

Clearance will vary depending on the type of fireplace you have. You will always need to consult the manufacturer’s manual for specifics.

Wood-Burning Fireplace Clearance

Wood-burning fireplaces generate a great deal of heat, although most of it should escape through the chimney. That said, if you mount a TV above a fireplace, you will need to stay on top of chimney cleaning and inspections in addition to adhering to the clearance. If your chimney is clogged or damaged, more heat will come into the room and could damage your TV regardless of your adherence to the clearance.

Gas Fireplace Clearance

There are two key types of gas fireplaces: vented and ventless. Like wood-burning fireplaces, vented gas fireplaces will expel a great deal of heat outside, meaning that your TV should be safe as long as you mount it with respect to clearance. Ventless gas fireplaces may generate quite a bit more heat indoors, particularly in their immediate surroundings, and you may not want to mount your TV above a ventless gas fireplace. 

Electric Fireplace Clearance

Electric fireplaces rarely generate as much heat as wood-burning or gas fireplaces. Plus, they are often equipped with fans, that expel heat out into the room and away from the surrounding wall. While you should still check for a designated clearance, electric fireplaces are the safest and easiest fireplaces to accommodate appropriately when mounting a TV. 

Consider Height

Depending on both the height of your fireplace and the clearance, you may need to think long and hard about your viewing experience. While it can look attractive to hang a TV high on the wall, it is most comfortable (and easy on the eyes and neck) to watch a TV that is at eye level. Your eye level will depend on the height of your chairs or couch and the distance between your seating and the TV, itself.

Before you mount your TV, use painter’s tape to mark the spot on the wall where it will hang, factoring in clearance and the size of the TV. Then, sit down where you will normally sit when the TV is on. If it’s too high and you feel a strain in your neck, you may want to reconfigure your seating so that you can mount the TV on another wall.

Will a Full-Range Motion Mount Help?

A full-range motion mount will allow you to swivel and reposition your TV so that it is higher, lower, or tilted at an angle. In theory, this can create a more comfortable viewing experience when your TV is mounted high on the wall, as it can allow you to lower the TV by a few inches. That said, you will only be able to lower the TV when the fireplace is not in use and the surrounding area is sufficiently cooled off.

Inspect Your Fireplace Facing Materials

All wood-burning fireplaces, some gas-burning fireplaces, and any retrofit fireplaces will have what is called a fireplace facing (aka fireplace surrounds). This is the part of your fireplace that sticks out from the wall and surrounds the opening of your hearth and fireplace. If your fireplace has a facing, it is likely made of stone or brick, and you will need to inspect these materials to make sure that you can safely drill into them.

Make Sure the Masonry Is Intact

First, make sure that the materials are intact. For example, if you have a brick fireplace facing, it is held together with mortar, which is a material that degrades over time. If the mortar is starting to crumble or fall apart, adding extra weight to it could cause it to collapse.

Don’t Drill Into Your Chimney Box

In order to mount a TV, you will use a mounting kit and drill several screws into the wall or fireplace facing. If you do have to drill into a fireplace facing, make sure that you don’t drill into the chimney box, which can cause toxic fumes to escape into the room and cost thousands to fix. Because this is a risk when drilling near your fireplace ventilation system, you should always consult your chimney experts before getting started.

Install a Mantel or Hood

A fireplace mantel doesn’t just give you extra space to style with your favorite decor. It also serves an important purpose: diverting any smoke or heat that has escaped your fireplace back into the ventilation system. Fireplace hoods also serve that same purpose and are typically smaller and closer to the fireplace, itself.

If you want to mount a TV over your fireplace, make sure that you have a mantel or hood. If you have an electric fireplace, you likely won’t need this extra precaution, but it is advisable if you have a gas fireplace and necessary if you have a wood-burning fireplace.

In some cases, it may be tempting to place your TV directly on the mantel. In theory, mantels are hung with clearance in mind, but if you didn’t install the mantel yourself, you will want to double-check. You may also want to touch the top of your mantel after your fireplace has been in use for a few hours to see how hot it actually gets before putting your TV on it.

Use a Cable Raceway

Once you know how to safely mount a TV above your fireplace, it’s time to think about cords. In general, you won’t want to see cords dangling down from the wall. When you’re mounting a TV above a fireplace, it’s even more important to secure the cords to make sure that they don’t come into contact with the fire, screen, or glass that incases your fireplace.

A cable raceway is a perfect solution. Cable raceways are tube-like structures that hold all of your cords together and make it easy to secure them in any direction you desire. Plus, most cable raceways offer some degree of heat resistance, which can help to protect your cords from overheating. 

Need a New Fireplace? Come to Dreifuss Fireplaces

If you want to mount a TV above a fireplace, make sure that you take into consideration everything we’ve discussed here. The last thing you want is to lose your TV to overheating or a fall from the fireplace facing. 

Are you considering upgrading your fireplace or investing in something that won’t cause your TV to overheat? Contact us at Dreifuss Fireplaces to find out more about how we can help. 

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