Heat up your Portland home value with a fireplace or stove

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In the damp, dark winters that characterize the Portland, Oregon area, there’s nothing quite like a cheery flame to warm your toes.

Traditional open fireplaces are attractive but inefficient, and there are many other options for units that put out heat without creating drafts and wide temperature fluctuations. Rustic wood-burning stoves, pellet stoves or modern glass-enclosed gas or electric fireplaces add a comfortable ambiance to your home that can’t be rivaled. They also serve as a living-area centerpiece, an attractive place for the family to gather year-round.

If you’re thinking of selling your Portland home down the road, adding a heat-efficient fireplace or stove could pay off in helping potential buyers fall in love with your home. So what are your options?

1. Wood-burning stove. Wood stoves are at the lower end of the price range and will satisfy the homeowner who enjoys chopping wood and building fires. Because they sit away from the wall, they put more heat into the house than a traditional exterior-wall fireplace. And there’s nothing like having heat in the house even during power outages! However, the mess and work of daily wood fires make wood stoves a gamble when appealing to potential buyers. Cost: $500 – $1,000

2. Pellet stove. Pellet stoves look a lot like wood stoves at first glance, but there are several key differences. They are designed to burn sawdust pellets that can be purchased and easily poured into the feeder. They require little cleanup and produce both a cozy flame and consistent heat output. A pellet stove could serve as the main heat source for the home or supplement the furnace. The downside is that just as for a wood stove, you will need a chimney put in your home to accommodate a pellet stove, which can be costly depending on your situation. Also, there is an electronic ignition, so the stove won’t work if the power goes out. Cost: $1,000 – $5,000.

3. Gas fireplace. The glass-enclosed natural gas fireplace is a popular choice in Portland, where natural gas is available for most homes. These fireplaces are efficient, nice to look at, and very convenient, with no chimney needed. You can even replace an old drafty wood fireplace with a gas fireplace with a simple insert. The flick of a switch ignites the flames, which can burn around simulated logs and coals that are sometimes hard to tell from the real thing. Some models also have a battery backup so you’re not dependent on the power grid to light the fire. Depending on the model and the room it’s in, some gas fireplaces put out enough warm air and radiant heat to really toast things up quickly and efficiently. Cost: $2,000 – $6,000.

4. Electric fireplace. Like a gas fireplace, an electric fireplace can be a new installation or be inserted in an existing fireplace. Electric fireplaces require no venting but generally don’t produce the realistic “wood fire” look as well as gas. If you’re going for a modern look and are willing to spend a little more, some electric fireplaces can be very attractive. Just remember to look for the kind that are actually built in to your wall or fireplace. A wall-mounted or freestanding electric fireplace won’t add to your home value since it can be taken with you. Because they run off electricity just like a standard furnace or space heater, an electric fireplace won’t save you on your heating bill, but they can help you take advantage of zone heating. Cost (built-in): $1,000 – $2,000

When pricing out your fireplace or stove, don’t forget installation costs, which depend on the room and whether you’re retrofitting an old wood fireplace or putting in something completely new. Also, don’t forget to check into the prices of gas, pellets or wood, and have heating cost estimates ready for potential buyers. One more thing, it is not recommended to purchase a used fireplace insert or stove. Oregon passed in 2010 (ORS 468A.460-468A.515) new regulations on woodstoves and fireplace inserts that requires home sellers to remove and destroy any uncertified fireplace insert or woodstove prior to selling their home. When you buy an insert or stove, be sure to check certification as provided by Oregon DEQ or the U.S. EPA, Enviromental Protection Agency.

Not sure which fireplace is best for your home and your home value? Ask your Portland Real Estate Agent.

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