Spring home and condo buyers put cozy fireplace high on wish list
After going through the Polar Vortex Winter in Chicago, many homebuyers put a cozy fireplace at the top of their shopping wish list this spring, experts say.
April 8th-19 ?? According to a recent survey, buyers rank fireplaces as one of the top three amenities they like most in their home. Sixty percent of new homes have a fireplace, compared to just 36 percent in the 1970s.
A survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 46 percent of home buyers would pay more for a home with at least one fireplace.
When this writer teamed up with realtor Sara Benson early this spring to come up with marketing plans for my home on the North Side, tweaking our two gas fireplaces was high on the list.
Stove purists say a wood stove ?? with its ambience, crackling and scent ?? is the most romantic option. However, wood-burning fireplaces can also be an expensive headache for the untrained or busy homeowner.
After years of hauling logs up two flights of stairs to a master bedroom with a wood-burning fireplace in a vintage house in the Sauganash neighborhood, I settled on gas logs in the current house.
?? A wood-burning fireplace is expensive, an energy hog, and just too much of a job for the average homeowner ,? agreed Steve Alleyne (left) of Firefixer, a Chicago-based company that specializes in both the service and repair of vented and ventilated chimneys.
First you need to buy the logs, which can cost $ 175 to $ 300 per cable. a pile of firewood four feet high by four feet wide and eight feet long? for mixed hardwood or pure hardwood according to Alleyne. There are likely to be shipping and stacking charges.
When you finally get those chimney logs burning, 90 percent of the heat is going through the chimney, said Alleyne, a Chicago firefighter who has worked as a chimney maker and plumber for two decades.
?? If the chimney does not have an ash dump, you will need to have a professional chimney cleaning performed every two years to keep flammable creosote at bay, ?? warned Alleyne.
Fireplace can add thousands to the value of the home
According to Benson, president of Chicago-based Benson Stanley Realty, a working fireplace, either wood or gas fired, is a coveted feature that gives a home thousands of dollars in value.
?? Owners looking to put their home up for sale this spring and want to secure a top price should make sure the fireplace is in good condition ?? advised Benson (right). If you own a high-end residence, buyers expect a fireplace. In Chicago, any working fireplace can add $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 in value to the average home, depending on the selling price.
Most of the chores associated with chimney maintenance can be eliminated by converting a wood chimney to a natural gas burner and installing gas logs. A deluxe set of ceramic gas logs costs between $ 750 and $ 1,500, depending on the size.
For push-button lighting, you can also add a variable thermostat remote control for around $ 200. Firefixer performs the wood-to-gas conversion for $ 195 that doesn’t include the cost of running a gas pipeline and any electrical work required.
Another choice is the installation of a direct venting chimney insert or the new lining of an existing old chimney and the installation of a new flap for chimney ventilation.
What’s the most energy efficient option?
The ventless gas fireplace is the best choice if you want to keep most of the heat in the room, Alleyne advised. A chimney without a hood is 98% efficient and can save up to 40% on your gas bill.
Ventless fireplaces are an affordable source of heat because the burner is small and less expensive than running the stove at full blast during the cold months, noted Firefixer.
Vent-free fireplaces are very popular in high-rise condominiums and rental apartments because they don’t need a smoke vent or chimney, said Alleyne. Servicing valveless equipment is more than half of Firefixer’s business.
However, annual cleaning and maintenance is required to remove dust from the logs and prevent clogging of the burner lighter. A clogged pilot is the result of dirt build-up in the chimney and causes the device to shut down. said Alleyne.
Firefixer also recommends opening a window for the first few hours after cleaning and inspecting the log set.
?? Running the log record without first cleaning it can lead to charring in the logs, ?? he said. ?? I went up to where the whole wall to the ceiling of the fireplace they were using was blackened without ever being cleaned. ??
Vent-free logs burn cleanly as long as the logs are in the correct position and remain clean. Firefixer’s inspection checks for gas leaks, shorted cable connections and ensures that everything complies with building codes. He also checks the clearance for flammable materials around the fireplace, and for ventilated equipment, he controls the gas supply pipes and ventilation.
Firefixer does the job for a $ 145 service call that includes replacing batteries for remote starters, installing fresh embers and lava rocks, and a seasonal warranty.
No vent fireplaces require an annual cleaning and maintenance check to reduce carbon monoxide emissions and a professional safety inspection every fall before the harsh winter months, Alleyne noted.
Many homeowners have a fireplace without a flue but do not use it regularly due to a lack of knowledge. If there is a problem with the vent-free combustion odor from logs, Firefixer recommends burning the logs for one hour with the window open at the beginning of the season.
?? If there is a problem with your fireplace without a vent during the heating season from October to May ?? from bad log starter batteries to accidentally switching off the control lamp ?? will we make a free callback, ?? said Alleyne.