Fireplace Facts

Purchasing a home with a fireplace or stove or adding one on to your existing home can provide tremendous benefit in heat efficiency as well as contribute to your home’s resale value. In fact, one of the top investments you can do to your home remodeling job is to add a fireplace. Almost 80% of home buyers look for homes with a fireplace or stove and consider a fireplace the most appealing amenity for a home.

The inefficiency of older masonry fireplaces.

Many of the old masonry fireplaces do not heat a home efficiently. They allow the warm indoor air to escape outside, losing from 80% to 100% of their heat as well as 10% of the indoor air. That certainly does not do much for keeping a house warm.

Fireplaces have changed for the better.

Over the years, the purpose of a fireplace has changed. A fireplace used to be considered simply for appearance and recreational use, like when entertaining guests for a dinner party or adding a touch of romantic ambiance to a room. Today, fireplaces and stoves still provide these benefits, but they are also cost-efficient and energy-effective.

Not only are these new fireplaces better for heating your home, many of the designs we have today offer a unique design element we didn’t have before. There are see-through designs where two rooms can share the same beautiful fire, and even fireplaces and stoves that have glass three- and four-sided views. This type of design can fit into any style room, offering something extra special.

Built for design and function.

Many fireplaces today are factory built and designed specifically to produce more heat than a traditional masonry fireplace. This type fireplace is also called low clearance and can be located as close as one-half inch from the wall with no danger of fire. These fireplaces are extremely lightweight and reasonably priced. If you are handy around the home, you might even be able to do the installation yourself. Just be sure to carefully follow the instructions of the manufacturer and check with your homeowner’s insurance company. You can purchase one of these fireplaces for as little as $800 for a smaller more simplistic design.

Increase the efficiency of your old fireplace.

If you want to increase the efficiency of your masonry fireplace, consider a slanted back, which allows the heat to radiate into the room better, an insulated fireplace, a fan-driven heat exchanger to enable the fire to warm the air as well as radiate it. Glass doors are also heat efficient. Many are designed to hold in heat after the fire is extinguished, keeping the room nice and toasty. Check with your local fireplace specialist for other options for getting the most out of your fireplace. Look at my Bob’s Top Picks page for a few people you can call.


Bob Beisbier, owner of BK Home Inspections, is a Certified Master Home Inspector who has been providing professional and thorough home inspections in southeast Wisconsin for over 12 years. Bob is Infrared certified, DILHR Certified, and provides Home Energy Tune-ups, Environmental Data Reports, Pre-sale Home Inspections and Pre-offer Home Inspections.