Imagine you’ve been strolling outdoors after dinner, enjoying the starry sky and brisk air of a clear, chilly night. What could be cozier than coming home, pouring yourself a cup of hot tea, and settling into your favorite chair in front of the fire? For many, a fireplace is one of the essential features they look for in a new house. For others, it may be something worth considering when remodeling their home.
Many Warm Returns
It turms out an investment in a fireplace can generate more than warmth and ambience for your family. In fact, a fireplace may increase your resale value. The National Center for Real Estate Research has estimated that a fireplace may add as much as 12% to a home’s value.
Keeping the Home Fires Burning Bright
Whether you have recently moved into a home with a wood-burning fireplace or you are looking for a refresher on how to maintain yours, here are some tips for optimal performance:
Test your fireplace by igniting a small piece of wood. Watch the smoke to be sure it goes up the chimney, not into the room.
Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected by a certified professional at least once each year. You may want to do this more often if you notice smoke escaping into the room or excessive sooty buildup inside the chimney.
Remove enough ash from the fireplace to maintain airflow beneath the log grate. Leaving some ash on the bottom of the firebox can actually make maintaining a fire easier.
Burn only “seasoned” wood, which are logs that have been split and allowed to dry for at least six months. This keeps soot and creosote to a minimum.
A Gas Alternative
While maintaining a wood-burning fireplace is often seen as worthwhile, some homeowners prefer a cleaner burning experience, especially when allergens are an issue. In this case, a gas-flame fireplace may be a better option.
Today’s gas fireplaces are highly efficient appliances that incorporate a bit of technology. With remote control operation and realistic visual effects, they can easily be installed as part of a renovation. Existing wood fireplaces can also be converted to burn natural gas or propane. The cost of converting a wood-burning fireplace varies from home to home, but it is roughly estimated at $500–$5,500. Meanwhile, installing a new gas fireplace costs $2,040 on average nationally.
Ultimately, the decision to add or convert a fireplace comes down to one factor: enjoyment of your home. Whatever route you decide to go, fireplaces can be a cozy investment.