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I'm wall mounting a flat TV above a mantle, above a wood fireplace. The mantle is quite high, so to get the right viewing angle, and because the mantle is hideous, I'd like to replace it and move it as low as possible.

What is the minimum distance for a mantle above a fireplace? There are no glass doors - just a chain mail curtain. This would be for Ontario if that helps. A fireplace sales associate mentioned 12 inches but wasn't sure.

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    Depends on local code. Where I'm at, for a wood burning fireplace, there has to be a minimum of 16" clearance around the glass without any combustible material. – DA01 May 5 '13 at 2:46
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    Also, if this is an open wood fireplace, note that it'll likely produce a bit of soot now and then that you likely don't want on a TV screen. Finally, are you SURE you want the TV there? They look great in photos, but actually are one of the worst place to put a TV for actual TV watching. – DA01 May 5 '13 at 2:47
  • Between weird open air separators and electric baseboards, this is the best place for it. I've had it in literally every other place it could be. I'll be installing glass doors to help with the air sucking effect and also to protect the TV a bit. The mantle will help to that end as well, though soot tends to get everywhere. – Archonic May 6 '13 at 13:45
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I was just about to ask this last week. I found the NFPA Guidelines here - don't go to their site or you get a 1000 page PDF. I agree with DA01 - fireplace TVs hurt the neck.

enter image description here

  • The mantel must project a decent amount (10"?) or the TV could get overly hot. Another reason to not put TVs there, at least with LCDs, is unless they are angled downwards, the contrast ratio typically falls of much faster with changes in vertical angles than with horizontal angles. – bcworkz May 5 '13 at 17:54
  • That is a really good point. Honestly I would CSI this thing. Get a good fire going and see what the temperature is where you would put a TV. If it is above 80 degrees you will have electric issues. New TVs are basically computers. Computers like 70 degrees. Over 80 degrees is the danger zone. Fans run more, things don't last as long, etc. – DMoore May 5 '13 at 18:11
  • I added the picture. No way was I explaining all of the scenarios. – DMoore May 6 '13 at 15:26
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It depends on local code. But the following sources indicate that the bottom of the Mantel must be at least 12 inches (30.48 cm) above the top of the firebox:

  • 2015 IRC R1003.11 Fireplace Clearance, Exception 4
  • 2016 NFPA 211 11.2.5.4 Clearance

Details/Notes:

2015 IRC R1003.11 Fireplace Clearance, Exception 4

  • Source: https://up.codes/viewer/int_residential_code_2015/chapter/10#R1001.11
  • Note the following exception: if a mantel projects less than 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) from the wall, then it may be placed closer to the firebox according to the following formula:

    Minimum distance between bottom of mantel and top of firebox (in inches) = Mantel projection from wall (in inches) / 0.125

    If the calculated minimum distance is less than six inches (15.24 cm), six inches must be used; the bottom of the mantel can be no closer than six inches from the firebox opening.

2016 NFPA 211 11.2.5.4 Clearance

"National Standard Building Code" 2114.3 Masonry-built Fireplaces 4114.3.10

  • This code is quoted on some websites and may also apply, though I cannot find a source document for it
  • Welcome to DIY.SE! Can you provide the relevant text (or image, table, whatever) from those sources, as that would make this is a very good Answer. – mmathis Jan 5 '17 at 21:37

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