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Part 4 Historic Brooklyn Waterfront Apartment Refresh - A New Fireplace


When an abandoned flue and air vent were uncovered during renovation, our clients were eager to explore the possibility of adding a fireplace to the grand living room in their duplex apartment.

Proximity to an existing gas line meant that they key ingredients were in place to develop a beautiful focal point for the dining area. 

The goal was now to find the perfect combination of gas insert, hearth, log set and decorative mantel that would maintain indoor air quality while creating a sophisticated and luxurious addition to the decor.

Fireplace Flue

Removing drywall for new insulation at the exterior walls and ceiling revealed the openings and suggested the possibility for a new fireplace. 

The existing flue and air vent had been sealed up with concrete plugs. They were cleaned, tested and fitted with appropriate extensions and caps above the roof. 

Traditional fireplaces are unfortunately neither efficient at heating nor healthy for the occupants. The energy loss up the chimney is generally greater than that contributed by the burning fuel. Moreover, Wood smoke contains fine and ultrafine particles as well as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and sulfur dioxide.

Typical unvented gas fireplaces are little better, releasing nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and volatile organic compounds.

Traditional fireplaces are unfortunately neither efficient at heating nor healthy for the occupants.

New York City has strict regulations around fireplace type and installation, intended to preserve both indoor and outdoor air quality. Unlike many rural or suburban locales, the installation of new wood burning fireplaces is illegal in the city. Installing a gas fireplace is legal provided you install one of the approved types:

  • Ventless Fireplaces - while legal in much of the country when paired with an oxygen depletion sensor, these are illegal in NYC and are absolutely terrible for indoor air quality.
  • Direct-vent Fireplaces - these are legal and maintain decent air quality since they are completely sealed since all fresh air and combustion exhaust is directly vented to the outside. The downside is the flames are smaller and always sealed behind a glass window, and the units produce a lot of heat.
  • B-Vent - this is a hybrid solution that draws in room air for combustion but exhausts via the flue. These fireplaces produce an open, more natural looking flame and throw off less heat. 

We ultimately selected a B-Vent unit to mimic the look and feel of a traditional hearth. Since we had a ready supply of fresh air, the final setup minimizes heat loss from the room. We worked closely with the installers to specify a system of dampers and fans to maximize ventilation and prevent downdrafts.

New York City has strict regulations around fireplace type and installation.

Fireplace Coordination

The installation process involved careful coordination with our fire protection, plumbing and HVAC teams to ensure that all connections were secure and met the most stringent safety standards. We used high-quality materials and followed best practices to guarantee the longevity and performance of the fireplace.

Fireplace Marble

A beautiful historic stone fireplace surround was sourced by the interior designer, dramatically upgrading the presence in the room.

By addressing the technical and safety challenges and focusing on the client's vision, we were able to create a stunning centerpiece that brings warmth and elegance to the home. Stay tuned for our next post, where we will discuss the final touches and finishing details of this remarkable renovation project.

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