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.