Time To Think About A Fireplace
How many customers do you have who would love to throw another log on the fireplace when the cool, crisp days of autumn arrive? Fireplaces have long symbolized romance in America. Every feel good, romantic movie seems to have a fireplace burning somewhere. I always think about that evening in Vermont when I met my wife — the fireplace was burning.
But usually one of two problems are encountered when it comes to enjoying that romantic fireplace — either there is no fireplace in the home, or it’s a pain in the neck to clean the thing after each use and it still smells like a stale forest fire anyway. Of course, we can add to the list of reasons why people don’t enjoy a fireplace. You get the idea.
If you think in terms of new technology, however, you can solve all those problems. Why not enjoy the romance of a fireplace without the hassles of a fireplace? Just relax and enjoy the warmth. That’s the beauty of the many styles of new gas-fired, unvented, decorative fireplaces.
No Mess Alternative: All you need is a supply of natural gas and a place to locate the unit. No vent, no chimney, no wood, no mess. Best of all, the flames look like a real fire. Just the wood is fake, made of stone (or ceramics, if you want to be formal).
A friend of mine was so taken aback by the realistic appearance of the unvented gas fireplaces that he installed two in his great room, one at each end of the room. Whenever I stop by, he has both fireplaces going. Everyone thinks he burns a ton of wood because he always has both burning during the cool weather months. In fact, he hasn’t burned one stick of wood, nor has he had to buy a supply of rocks that look like wood. He considers his great room the most romantic room in his house. If you ever walked in, you’d agree.
Of course, what makes these fireplaces so easy to install is the advent of corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST). The gas piping installation takes only minutes. You only have two connections to make — one to a main gas supply, and the other to the fireplace unit. There is a valve at the fireplace unit to control the flow of gas. CSST is easy to install in any existing building.
One of the concerns you may have is that the fireplaces are unvented. Many plumbing contractors immediately think of the CO buildup and other byproducts of combustion that can pollute the house. However, the fireplace is no different than an unvented gas stove. If you want peace of mind, install a CO monitor when you install the fireplace. But, realize that these units are tested to nationally recognized standards for unvented decorative fireplaces. The fireplaces are very safe and economical.
Install Anywhere: Because there is no vent or chimney, the faux fireplaces can be installed just about anywhere. I have seen them in bedrooms, kitchens, master bathrooms, dining rooms, and entry foyers, in addition to the classic locations, such as the living room and family room. The installation cost is minimal compared to a wood-burning fireplace.
Why mention them in June? Because October is too late! You can begin to line up the work now so your customers can enjoy their new fireplace when the leaves begin to turn colors. As soon as one fireplace makes its way into a neighborhood, others will surely follow. The fireplaces sell themselves, with a little help from you. Just send them down the block to admire their neighbor’s new romantic installation.
I am often faced with the comment by plumbers that fireplaces are not plumbing. My response is, “Of course they are. Who else is supposed to install the units?” The unvented fireplaces are gas-fired appliances, no different from connecting a stove or dryer. I use the stove and dryer as examples because the appliance installer, better known as the store handyman, has taken over that work. The unvented fireplaces will disappear from the plumber’s list of work if you don’t act soon. Personally, I would rather have plumbing contractors install the units since this is where the knowledge for installing gas-fired appliances lies.
I checked with a friend of mine who supplies unvented, gas-fired decorative fireplaces regarding price. According to his figures, you can install a new unit in most homes for $2,000 and pocket a good profit. That’s not a bad price for a beautiful new, clean-burning fireplace.
To add one more factor to help you sell the concept, think of the fireplace as an emergency heating source when the power goes out in the dead of winter. Boilers need electricity to operate, as do the scorched air types. But these fireplaces only need a light. The family can snuggle in front of the fire rather than freeze under heavy blankets.
For those of you asking how many of these fireplaces I have in my own home, the answer is none. I still throw a log on my real, wood-burning fireplace. I’m one of those old-fashioned guys who likes all the nonsense that goes with burning wood. But I’m a dying breed.