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This is What Your Old Fireplace Could Look Like

A local expert offers tips for homeowners looking to upgrade and/or remodel their old fireplace just in time for the fall/winter burning season.

If you’re looking to remodel or upgrade your old fireplace, then you’re also looking for a meeting with John Ivancicts.

He is vice president of operations at Southwest’s Fireside & Patio in Aurora and Southwest Fireplace’s two locations in the Southland, one in Frankfort and the other in Palos Park.

He’ll start by walking you through a three-point upgrade outline:

1. Choose your fireplace model. Do you want to go with a gas or wood insert? What kind of doors appeal to you? And what about all the other options?

“Well, right now in the marketplace, the best bang for the buck upgrade would be to either to install a gas insert or a wood insert into an existing fireplace,” Ivancicts said. “Either of those options—they give you a look upgrade. But, even more importantly, they give you an intense performance upgrade.

“You’ll take an open, wood-burning fireplace that’s somewhere between 15 percent efficient and negative-30 percent efficient and you’ll turn it into a product that’s going to give 75 percent-plus efficiency, depending on which model you select.

“That will turn the room that’s always cold or not quite so comfortable into a room that you will use all the time. You will be able to zone-heat that room, turn down your furnace and save a whole bunch of money while getting a new look out of your fireplace.”

2. Establish a price point for your project. Ivancicts said most gas or wood inserts can be installed for between $2,500 and $5,000. An upgrade to a gas log system—which he said is not as efficient as a gas insert—would start at about $400.

“It’s on when you want it on,” Ivancicts said. “It’s off when you want it off. And there is no daily cleanup like when you burn a wood fire. That’s the big thing—we have people come in all the time. They’re very youthful. They get their first house. They’re all into the burning thing.

“Then, after a few years, it’s like, ‘Man, every time I burn it I have to clean the glass. I’ve got to clean the firebox out. I’ve got bugs in the house from the wood.’ A lot of those folks will either move into the ceramic gas log set, which is an easy-on, easy-off ambience tool, or they’ll move into a high-efficiency insert, which gives you the best of both worlds.”

3. Answer these questions: Are you looking for a facelift? A fresh look in your family room? Don’t paint the old bricks on your existing fireplace. That’s long since faded from popular fashion, Ivancicts said. Instead, cover old bricks with the latest stone products on the market. And add a shelf, too. You won’t recognize your old fireplace unless you pull out some old photographs.

“We do these jobs every day,” Ivancicts said. “You take an old brick fireplace that looks like it was made in the ’20s or ’40s or ’60s and we upgrade it with cultured stone or boulder creek stone. It gives it a whole new look and makes it look like it was assembled in 2012.”

Ivancicts said customers can expect to spend about $25 a square foot for an installed stone fireplace project—material and labor included.

“It’s way more modern,” he said. “The quantity of selection is in the hundreds upon hundreds of different looks you can get—traditional, contemporary, Gothic, Americana, all those styles are out there. They’re all readily available, all similar in cost, grouted installs, groutless installs, which look very modern and clean.”

Spring 2013 November 01, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Southwest Fireplace recently charged me $65.00 for a Annual Tune Up. My unit needed 2 parts and they told me they would call me when the parts came in. They NEVER called back and when I called them they said they could not get the parts. Why the hell did they service my unit and take my $65.00 if they could not get parts???? Does this sound FAIR? Thanks Southwest for your customer service!
Are you kidding me? November 01, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Southwest Fire is NOT BBB Accredited and has 5 Complaints on file. Spring~you should get your $$ back!

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