Wood Fireplaces: Help or Hurt?

Maybe you are a home buyer interested in a property with a wood burning fireplace. Perhaps you are a homeowner finishing up the winter’s supply of firewood with one last fire on a cold spring day. Either way, you may be wondering about wood fireplaces and the affect they have on property value, your heating bill, and the air quality inside your home. This post addresses those questions by making the cases both for and against a wood burning fireplace in your home.

The Case for – The smell and aesthetics of a wood burning fire are unmatched by anything else. When a well-made fire that uses seasoned and dry wood is made in a well-maintained fireplace it is very unlikely to reduce the air quality in your home or pose any health threats. It will also provide cozy heat for the occupied room, which can give your furnace a bit of a break. And generally, a clean and tastefully designed fireplace will increase the resale value of your home.

The Case Against – Don’t light a fire for the sake of heating efficiency. From that standpoint, firewood is very expensive compared to the amount of heat it actually produces within a home. Additionally, the suction created by the demand for oxygen means the fire is actually pulling in the warm air you paid to heat and burning it up the chimney! A fire in your home poses some threats, too. The NFPA estimates that approximately 400 deaths and nearly $1Billion in direct property loss happen each year as a result of chimney fires. Even if a house fire is avoided, a dirty chimney mixed with bad wood can push harmful toxins into your home. Therefore, it is imperative to have your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly.