In colder areas, a fireplace is considered an essential element to a home. However, what if your home is not in a cold climate? Perhaps removing that chimney will not damage the home’s value, but it could prove to be costly.
Removing a chimney typically will not damage a home’s value in warm regions. However, removing the chimney in cold regions does negatively affect a home’s value. A fireplace is an expected feature, so removing one hurts the resale appeal of a home. A study done by the National Association of Realtors suggests that a fireplace can increase the value of a home up to 12 percent.
A badly damaged, unsightly chimney is an eyesore, and there are a handful of reasons why a homeowner would remove one. Is the cost of removal worth it? Before you put on your gloves and get ready to demo, it may be in your best interest to simply update the look of your chimney and fireplace instead.
Does Chimney Removal Devalue A House?
Removing a fireplace (and chimney) in a warm climate doesn’t affect the resale value, as they are more of a feature than an amenity. Removing a fireplace in colder climates will affect the resale value negatively, as fireplaces function as another heat source. This is especially true in areas that are prone to winter power outages.
You cannot give an exact number as to how much a chimney removal will devalue a home. We can say for sure that fireplace and chimney removal will drastically lower the number of interested buyers. This is especially true for homes in colder climates, as fireplaces sometimes have to function as the primary heating source.
In colder regions, a missing fireplace is a deal-breaker for some home buyers. So even though you may not see a direct impact in value, you will have fewer interested potential buyers.
A study done by the National Association of Realtors claims that a fireplace can add up to 12 percent value to your home. Therefore, a homeowner could assume that the home could reduce in value up to 12 percent by removing one. But remember, this depends on the region your home is located in. Understandably, a chimney is considered more valuable in homes located in colder climates.
When it comes to warmer climates, fireplaces and chimneys become more of an aesthetic addition rather than a necessity. Fireplaces are universally loved worldwide, so the addition of one is almost 100% sure to raise the value.
Removing one will, of course, lower the value of your home, but only slightly. You shouldn’t expect to see a 12% decrease, but a slight decline of 1-5% wouldn’t be out of the ordinary.
Why Would You Remove A Chimney?
In areas where a chimney is not an expected amenity, it can be beneficial to remove the chimney. Fireplaces take up a good amount of space, and removing them would increase the home’s living space and improve room functionality. Additionally, older or damaged chimneys are unappealing and are an increased liability.
Here are some key reasons why some homeowners remove their chimneys:
- Remodel projects
- Fire risk
- Unsightly damage
Remodeling a home can offer a considerable selling advantage. In many remodels, homeowners aim to make a space more functional and more aesthetically pleasing. In some cases, this means removing a dated fireplace and chimney. But is removal absolutely necessary? Perhaps consider re-finishing the fireplace to turn it into a feature piece.
Old and damaged chimneys can raise a red flag to new buyers, inspectors, and insurance agents. Ill-maintained chimneys pose an increased risk of fire damage. Similarly, a deteriorating chimney stack poses an increased risk of falling apart and injuring a person or animal. In these cases, removing the chimney may benefit a homeowner. Nevertheless, before you jump into a full-on demolition project, see if the problem can be solved with a good cleaning or repair.
Is It Worth It To Remove Your Chimney?
Generally, it is not worthwhile to remove a chimney. When you consider the amount of work, coupled with the cost, a complete removal may not be in your best interest. Many people prefer having a chimney and fireplace in their homes and find them aesthetically pleasing.
A homeowner can spend a large sum of money trying to remove a chimney—especially if the project involves removing the chimney stack (the portion that protrudes from the top of the house) and the chimney breast (the part that encapsulates the flue). According to HomeGuide, such a project can cost upwards of $10,000.
Nevertheless, some removal projects are simply removing the chimney stack and sealing off the flue. These projects can cost $500 on the low end and $2,500 on the high end. A partial removal renders the fireplace purely an aesthetic feature since the chimney is no longer functional. You could, however, insert an electric fireplace with the flue sealed off since the electric insert would not create exhaust.
Another consideration is that the chimney stack and chimney breast may be load-bearing—meaning they provide structural support. If the chimney is removed, you would need to add additional support to account for the loss of the chimney. This is why chimney removal projects escalate in cost by additionally paying for partially restructuring the home.
Is It Safe To Remove A Chimney?
Removing a chimney can deteriorate the structural integrity of a house if done incorrectly. Always consult a specialist before removing a chimney to make sure it doesn’t weaken your walls. If your chimney isn’t an integral part of your home’s foundation, it’s safe to remove.
Before tackling a project like this on your own, consider:
- Will removing the chimney affect the home’s structural support? Is the chimney breast load bearing?
- Are there harmful materials, such as asbestos or lead, that could be released during demolition?
- Will this removal negatively affect the value of my home? Could the chimney be improved by simply fixing or remodeling?
It should also be noted that chimneys, even those without fireplaces, are commonly used to exhaust fumes from other appliances. So even though you don’t have a fireplace, your chimney might still be in use. This also requires the help of a specialist to determine whether or not the chimney is still in use.
If you decide to remove the chimney, partially or entirely, the best option is to consult with a professional who can guide you in tackling this project safely and efficiently. A complete chimney removal is one of those sneaky home renovation projects that can end up costing a lot of money for little reward.