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How difficult is it to construct a fireplace/chimney in an older home with none in it?

Asked by DarlingRhadamanthus (11203 points ) July 9th, 2011

I have been looking for an older home to purchase (for awhile now.) And I noticed that in some of the older houses (1930’s) surprisingly there are no fireplaces even though they are in colder areas.

From a design standpoint, a traditional brick fireplace would look best in a house of this age. I also find those small black woodburning stoves just not attractive (unless it is a home that is in keeping with that sort of stove….for example….a contemporary house or a cottage in the woods.) I’d like something more traditional. I realize that it’s a matter of taste, but aesthetics do mean something to me. I think you can have something functional and still in keeping with the design period of a house.

Questions:

1. Can you erect a brick fireplace/chimney where one doesn’t exist? Even a kiva would look nice in this house (because of the design.) Would that be expensive?

2. Barring that you can’t do the above…does anyone know of a company that sells more attractive woodburning stoves? For example, maybe, Scandinavian tiled stoves or something that’s just a bit nicer in design?

3. As an alternative, is it possible to heat an older house with a woodburning stove in the basement that somehow circulates the heat through the central heating system? I remember my uncle had something like that rigged in his house in Pennsylvania. He would stoke up the woodburning stove in the basement and it would make the house really toasty and he only used the central electric heat in extremely low temps.

I would just like to find a way to heat a house in a colder climate that is not dependent on electricity all the time. Having had the heat shut off during ice storms at different points in my life, I think it’s a good thing anyway.

I would welcome any suggestions. Thank you very much!

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