It’s a common dilemma. You’ve bought a new plasma or LCD TV. But now where do you put it? The ideal solution for many people is to hang your flat screen TV above your fireplace. It’s quite popular to hang your TV above a fireplace these days instead of a mirror or piece of art. The fireplace is usually the focal point of the room and usually makes it easy to center the main viewing area in your room. But mounting a TV above a fireplace can pose a few unique problems.
( See our previous guide for general advice on hanging a TV. )
Should I hang my TV over the fireplace?
If you are hanging your fireplace above a fireplace, you will want to account for the mantel. If the mantel is less than 4 feet from the floor or if your fireplace does not have a mantel, mount your flat screen TV about 12 inches from the top of the mantel or fireplace itself. If your mantel is over 4 feet tall, mount the TV no more than 6 inches above the fireplace.
Some mantels will simply be too high for comfortable viewing. In a smaller room a TV mounted high on the wall can have a similar effect to sitting in the front row of the movie theater. However, if your room is large enough for the primary seating area to be at least 12 feet away a TV mounted above a tall mantle should be okay.
As with all wall mounted TVs, make sure you test it first. Hang a piece of newspaper or cardboard above the mantel where you want your TV to be. Sit down and assess if the TV is in a comfortable spot for viewing or not. Tilting your neck even a little bit for extended periods of time can cause neck strain.
Is it Safe?
However you will want to make sure that the heat won’t affect your TV. To make sure it’s safe, it’s a good idea to test the temperature first. This mostly applies to gas or wood burning fireplaces. Electric fireplaces generally don’t emit enough heat to be problematic. Even so, it’s a good idea to do a temperature check before mounting any fireplace.
If you want to test the temperature, here is what you need to do: Get a fire going and tape a reliable thermometer to the wall near the bottom of where your TV will be. You will want to make sure the fire is burning at its hottest temperature. A gas fireplace will take 15-30 minutes and a wood fireplace will take an hour or more to properly heat. Carefully monitor the thermometer. You might be surprised at the results but keep in mind that the heat may be radiating through the drywall or brick as well as radiating up from the fireplace face.
If the temperature on the thermometer reaches 90 degrees F (32° C) or more you will have a few options. You can put your TV in another location or resolve not to use it when the fireplace is going. It is probably ok to run for short periods of time even if it is hot. Using a TV that is warm will cause the motor to work overtime at attempting to cool the unit and will shorten the overall life of your TV. Each TV will have a different optimal temperature rating so it’s a good idea to check your model’s rating to be safe. However, if the temperature goes above 100 degrees F, then it is no longer safe. Your TV can become damaged even when not in use.
It’s also good to note that wood burning fireplaces will emit soot and ash. This can be problematic especially if you need to tilt your TV forward for optimal viewing. Regular cleaning can help but keep in mind that dust can get inside the TV as well as on the outside. It’s up to you whether you want to take the risk or not. To clean the exterior of your TV use a mixture of a mild detergent and water – no alcohol or ammonia unless the TV manual states otherwise.
A TV over fireplace installation can be tricky. Whenever you are mounting a TV on a fireplace, you will want to think carefully about your cables and wires. It might be possible to recess them if you have a modern fireplace with a drywall surround. If you plan to run your cables behind the drywall, ensure that there is plenty of insulation between the wiring and the chimney or venting so that the wires do not become heated above manufacturer’s recommended levels.
A brick or stone fireplace will most likely prevent the installation of hidden wires. In that case, you will have to use decorative exposed conduit or other wire management system to disguise them. Sometimes it’s possible to chisel out some grout to create a channel for your wires. Gouge out a channel in the grout with a portable drill. It’s preferable if your grout is large enough to insert conduit piping so that you can pull out wires if necessary later on. Once you have inserted your conduit pipe or cables into the channel you created you can caulk over the top. Remove excess caulking right away with a wet paper towel. Let the caulk set for 24 hours.
Mounting Your TV to Brick or Concrete
Attaching a TV wall mount to concrete or brick will involve a little extra work. Most TV mounts do not come with the right kind of anchors for concrete or brick so you might need to purchase a few extra supplies. You might also need to purchase an extra drill bit designed for concrete or brick if you do not already have one.
Be sure to use eye protection for any installation. Use the TV mount bracket as a guide to show you where to place the holes. Anchor into mortar instead of brick wherever possible. If you have to drill into the brick, always aim for the center of the brick and not the edges where the brick is likely to break or chip. Mortar can also be patched later on if you decide to move the TV elsewhere.
Use the right hardware for the job. Use either concrete screws or concrete anchors. Use the correct diameter carbide-tipped concrete/masonry bit or an impact drill if possible. For example, if you are using a ¼” diameter screw use a 3/16″ drill bit. Also be sure to double check that your screw or anchor will fit through the holes of your wall mount.
When you are donedrilling, clear your drill holes of any remaining debris with a shop-vac or wire brush. Tap in your concrete anchors into the wall if you are using them. Then attach your TV mount bracket. Tighten all nuts but be careful not to over tighten! You don’t want to accidentally dislodge your new anchors.
(For general advice on mounting a TV please see our guide here.)
Mounting a TV over a fireplace is an ideal solution for many homeowners. While installation can be tricky, the end results are worth making the extra effort.