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The place I just moved in to has a wall-mounted TV above the fireplace. However, I'm not sure how the previous residents dealt with the fact that the bottom of the TV gets very hot. Maybe the TV (which they left) is capable of handling the heat? I'm considering adding a shelf to block the heat, but I'm not sure if this is a good idea. Here's one from IKEA that I considered: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/70221461/ but it's made of glass, so it might be dangerous. Another possibility is one made of wood. Any suggestions?

I see this has been asked before but the answers do not seem satisfactory:

Here is a picture of my wall-mounted TV:

TV above fireplace

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8 Answers 8

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I am not sure what kind of fireplace you have. But there is definately a legal clearance limit around the opening for combustable materials. Check with your local building codes or manufacturer if you have one of those "insert" types of fireplaces.

A wood mantle will act a heat shield. Even though wood burns it still acts as an insulator so it should be sufficent to block most of the heat. But it also have to be a certain distance away from the opening.

I am not sure if you have a masonry or "insert" type, depending on type will determine how far away from the opening the mantle will need to be.

You might have to move the TV higher after the mantle is installed, do some measuring first before making a decision because the TV may end up very close to the ceiling, or may not fit at all.

Overall I think the TV is too close to the opening, so consider a relocation if possible.

I've included hearth clearances from 2003 that you can use to determine if installing a mantle is feasible. Please use these only as a guide, check your local codes to obtain the exact distance required. But those should good enough to see how much farther up the wall the TV may have to moved.

FIREPLACE HEARTH CLEARANCESS 1/2003

R1003.9.1 Hearth Thickness - The minimum thickness of firepalce hearths shall be 4" thick. (102)

R1003.9.2 Hearth Extension Thickness - The minimum thickness of hearth extension shall be 2" (51 mm)

Exception; When the bottom of the firebox opening is rasised at least 8" (203mm) above the top of the hearth extension, ahearth extension of not less than 3/8" inch thick (9.5mm) brick, concrete,stone, tile,or other approved noncombustible material is provided.

R1003.10 Hearth Extension Dimensions - Hearth extensions shall extend at least 16 inches (406mm) in front of and at least 8 inches (203mm) beyond each side of the fireplace opening. Where the fireplace opening is 6 square feet (0.557m2) or larger, the hearth extension shall extend at least 20 inches (508mm) in front of and at least 12 inches (305mm) beyond each side of fireplace opening.

R1003.12 Fireplace Clearance - All wood beams, joists, studs and other combustible material shall have a clearance of not less than 2 inches (51mm) from the front faces and sides of masonry fireplaces and not less than 4 inches (102mm) from the back of masonry fireplaces. The air space shall not be filled except to provide fireblocking in accordance with Section R 1003.14.

Exceptions:

  1. Masonry fireplaces listed and label for use in contact with combustibles in accordance with UL 127 and installed in accordance with the manufactures installation instructions are permitted to have combustible material in contact with their exterior surfaces.

  2. When masonry fireplaces are part of masonry or concrete walls, combustible materials shall not be in contact with the masonry or concrete walls less than 12 inches (305mm) from the inside surface of the nearest firebox lining.

  3. Exposed combustible trim and edges of sheathing materials such as wood siding, flooring and drywall shall be permitted to abut the masonry fireplace sidewalls and hearth extension provided such combustible trim or sheathing is a minimum of 12 inches (305mm) from the inside surface of the nearest firebox lining.

  4. Exposed combustible mantels and trim may be placed directly on the masonry fireplace front surrounding the fireplace opening providing such combustible materials shall not be placed within 6 inches (152mm) of a fireplace opening. Combustible material within 12 inches (306mm) of the fireplace opening shall not project more than 1/8 inch (3.2mm) for each 1-inch (25.4mm) distance from such opening.


2114.3 MASONRY FIREPLACES

2114.36 Fireplace hearth extensions shall be of approved noncombustible materials for all fireplaces. Where the fireplace opening is less than 6 sq.ft. (0.56m²), the hearth extension shall extend at least 16 inches (406mm) in front of the facing material and at least 8 inches (203mm) beyond each side of fireplace opening. Where fireplace opening is 6 sq.ft. (0.56m²) or larger, the hearth extension shall extend at least 20 inches (508mm) in front of the facing materials and at least 12 inches (305mm) beyond each side of the fireplace opening. Where a fireplace is elevated above or overhangs a floor, the hearth extension shall also extend over the area under the

2114.3.7 Fireplaces constructed of masonry or reinforced concrete shall have hearth extensions of brick, concrete, stone, tile, or other approved noncombustible material properly supported and with no combustible material against the underside thereof. Wooden form or centers used during the construction of a hearth and hearth extensions shall be removed when construction is completed. EXCEPTION: A header of combustible material may be used to support the hearth extension provided that it is located more than 12 inches (305mm) from the face of the fireplace.

2114.3.8 All combustible wood beams, joist, and studs shall be maintained a minimum of 2 inches (51mm) from the outside face of the chimney or fireplace masonry. Headers supporting trimmer arches at fireplaces shall be not less than 20 inches (508mm) from the face of the chimney breast. Trimmers shall be not less than 6 inches (152mm) from the inside face of face of the nearest flue lining.

2114.3.9 Woodwork shall not be placed within 4 inches (102mm) of the back of the fireplace, but shall not prevent plastering directly on the masonry or metal lath and metal furring.

2114.3.10 All combustible mantels and similar trim shall be kept at least 6 inches from fireplace opening. Parts of the mantel assembly located along the sides of the fireplace opening, which project more than 1-1/2 inches (38mm) from the face of the fireplace, shall have additional clearance equal to he projection. Parts of the mantel assembly located above and projecting more than 1-1/2 inches (38mm) from the fireplace opening shall not be placed less than 12 inches (305mm) from the top of the fireplace opening.

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Could you please indicate the source of the code referenced (e.g. International Building Code (IBC), International Residential Code (IRC), etc.)? –  Tester101 Feb 21 '13 at 12:34

A shelf or mantle is what I've read is usually done for the purpose of protecting the TV.

Comment: TV above a fireplace is absolutely the worst place to put one. Not just for heat reasons but, ergonomically, it should be placed at eye level for most comfortable viewing.

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Thanks for your response. What material and how big should the shelf be? –  amh Oct 21 '12 at 16:43
    
@amh - I'm pretty sure it was just a standard wood mantle. Now that I think of it, I believe it was something I saw on one of those home improvement TV shows and they specifically mentioned the heat problem. –  Rob Oct 21 '12 at 18:36
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If you decide to go with a mantel made of combustible material, check with the manufacturer of your fireplace insert, there is likely a minimum distance from the top of opening to any combustible mantel. Which may raise the mantel enough that the TV obstructs proper placement. If at all possible, the TV should be relocated, IMO. –  bcworkz Oct 21 '12 at 22:40

Running a ceiling fan in reverse while the fireplace is running would also be a good idea. It will push the warm air down from the ceiling to where the people are, and will create a downdraft along the walls so that a pocket of hot air can't build up behind the tv.

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The downside of anything active is it has to be 'in sync' with the fireplace. Would you run it all the night if you go to bed before the fire goes out? –  Peter Ivan Feb 9 '13 at 9:40

I remember seeing a contractor on a TV show telling his daughter not to put a TV above the fireplace. Pretty good idea. Move the TV. I wouldn't put valuable art above the fireplace either. Buy something at Ross or Bed Bath and Beyond and hang it there.

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I found two solutions that worked for me:

  1. A fireplace mantel heat deflector shield, and
  2. A fireplace heat shield hood, which I see you don't have installed.

Hope this helps you too.

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I think this answer is bordering on link-only/spam. Rather than just providing two external links, could you include some photos and a description of what these are, how they work, etc.? –  Steven Feb 21 '13 at 3:27
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Please review our rules on self promotion –  ChrisF Feb 21 '13 at 8:51

Niall C has referenced the IRC for one and two family dwellings 2003 edition which has been updated in 2006 and the NFPA 211. The IRC covers most if not all of the construction codes that may apply in various AHJ's, the NFPA covers chimneys and smokestacks. The NFPA also has a section on clearance to combustible reduction techniques. There are none that utilize a wood mantle but a metal plate with a metal rod fastener functioning as a spacer can reduce clearances by virtue of its projection between the fireplace opening and the television.

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Welcome to the site. Presumably you're referring to the edit that I made on this answer; if you look closely, you'll see "edited" by my name and "answered" by Jon Raynor's name. Please take a few moments to read the tour page to see how this site works. –  Niall C. Apr 23 at 20:48

It looks like a zero clearance insert, so it might not be an issue. Check the UL label on the unit. It would be best not to have a fire while watching TV, or be sure to turn on the blower for extending the TV's life.

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In my home I have a woodburner fire directly under the TV similar to what you have here.

The difference between what you have and what I have is that we have a shelf/mantle projecting out at least 20cm from the wall which ends up being around 10cm from the front of the TV.

But guess what? this wasn't enough. And the mantle was getting a little too warm when we put the wood burner in to what was originally an open fire with a shelf that didn't project out as far as it now does.

My solution (which I don't have a picture of handy to post) is that I made a deflector out of an old oven tray. You can paint it up with pot-belly black spray-paint. A paint designed to take extreme heat without flaking off.

Basically you bend the first inch of the tray on an angle and screw that to the wall to deflect the heat past the TV. That's basically what I've done. You can cut the metal tray/sheet down to whatever size you need. As small as you can get away with.

And by the way, it works surprisingly well. The TV doesn't get hotter than when the fire isn't lit.

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