Installing a TV above the fireplace is a very common decorating style in homes these days, but does that make it right? Here are some valid reasons to reconsider the location of your TV.
1) Electronics are sensitive to heat. The heat and smoke will reduce the lifespan of your TV. When you use your fireplace, heat rises. This is how your TV above the fireplace will come into direct exposure to the heat from the fire. This is especially true in cases where you have a heat exchange system or a stove insert inside the firebox which generate far more heat than a regular open wood-burning fireplace. In addition, the wall behind the TV may have some radiant heat from the heat going up the flue pipe inside the chimney, so your TV could be exposed to heat from the front as well as from the back. Televisions already generate a lot of heat on their own without additional exposure to the heat from the fireplace. Some manufacturers of televisions and other electronics recommend a maximum heat as low as 90°F.
2) Besides heat, dust particles create problems in electronics. Soot particles or particulates in the smoke from your open wood-burning fireplace can damage your TV. When you’re having a smoking problem from your fireplace, particulates will enter the TV above the fireplace. If your fireplace has a smoking problem, here are some solutions to solve that problem and reduce the amount of particulates into the home.
3) Due to the two reasons listed above, some television installation professionals state that installing a TV above the fireplace may void out the warranty on your TV. Make sure to contact the manufacturer and the retailer to verify that your warranty will be valid if you insist on installing your TV this way.
4) Television manufacturers recommend that televisions should be at eye level. The resolution of the TV is designed to be viewed from a specific angle. If you’re viewing the TV from too far right or left, or if the TV is located too far above the ideal viewing position, the TV screen may appear washed out and may lose some brightness. Adjustable mounts may alleviate some of those issues but not all.
5) Neck strain is a prominent problem with televisions mounted above the fireplace mantle. Imagine watching a movie in the theater from the front row. Sore neck and back muscles, stiff necks, and headaches can be caused by sitting in an unnatural position for any period of time.
6) Any kid or teenager will be the first ones to say that playing their X-boxes and Play Stations aren’t as easy to play when the TV is located above the fireplace.
7) During the mounting process, if the TV isn’t installed properly, you can ruin the fireplace and chimney system. Over the past few years, I’ve received a number of phone calls from panicked homeowners who drilled through the wall above the mantle straight into the chimney pipe. If you miss the stud, the drill can go clear through the drywall and into the metal chimney pipe on a prefab fireplace system. Homeowners and professional television installers don’t know just how close the chimney pipe for the prefab fireplace may be to the wall. If a hole has been drilled into the metal pipe, the flue pipe is compromised and the system can no longer contain the elements of combustion. In that case, the pipe must be replaced and, in some cases, the entire prefab fireplace system as well. In addition, it’s never a good idea to install the cables and electric cords behind the wall inside the chimney chase.
8) Most interior decorators will agree that a TV above the fireplace is not aesthetically pleasing because it takes away from the true focal point of the room–your beautiful fireplace. Also, we know as chimney sweeps, how much homeowners love to decorate their mantles which is harder to do with a TV blocking a majority of the mantle.
Televisions are expensive, and none of us want to see them damaged and quit before their time. My advice is to consider other locations to put your television instead of above that fireplace!
Blog post updated 10-03-21.