Are Used Fireplaces & Stoves a Good Idea?
In our ever-lasting search for the best deal, used items traditionally pose a great value. There are people who say to never buy a vehicle new – and many others that can attest to that motto by purchasing a year-old model to capture the best value. In search of these items, it’s important to find something that’s right for you and your situation, and undoubtedly some industries are more nurturing for this than others.
A quick internet search will reveal people dumping their old fireplaces, mantels, stoves, glass doors, among other things while promising great deals. The basic idea here is that these items are originally expensive, sometimes upwards of a few thousand dollars, and even though they show wear and tear, it’s still a lot less expensive than trying to purchase one new. Fireplaces, stoves, and the accessories have certainly gone up in price over the years too, rising with inflation as most products have.
The problem here is understanding value of the fireplace or stove. The price might be right, especially if you’re looking for a great bargain for the new man cave or the 3-seasons room you’ve meant to start working on, but special consideration must go into this decision. First of all, what was its original value? What type of condition is it in? Will it apply to my situation? What other things are there to consider? Ultimately, is it worth it?
If you hit on a reputable brand, the price might be higher but you’ll gain that back in peace-of-mind. Larger brands will also still be in business, which means replacement parts may still be available depending on the age of the product. Always make sure a make, model, and serial is available and try to look for date codes and owner’s manuals if possible. Do your homework to make sure people have been happy with this product, and popular models over the years might even have a dedicated online following. Ask good questions to the owner, and feel them out about how they treated it and its usage over the years. Ask them if it was maintained yearly, what type of wood did they burned, and if it ever needed work at some point. Also ask what its original value was – since there’s no point in buying a used low-grade cheap fireplace if you can buy one new for the same price. Lastly, see if the product still has any warranty left or if you’re taking a risk because of its age.
Aside from the product, your situation is just as important. With fireplaces and stoves, installing them can be just as costly. Chimney pipe and labor costs will add up quickly and installing these items are designed for the long haul – so don’t expect to pick it up and move it every other year. Consider what your plans are and if it’s worth it to enclose a 10 or 15 year old fireplace into a brand new wall when the fireplace may only have a few more years left under its belt.
You will also need to consider the details of that specific item to realize its clearances and codes and whether or not it will even work with current building codes & insurance coverages. Old pre-EPA fireplaces and stoves are treated like antiques and require extremely large clearance distances, and most reputable fireplace companies don’t want the liability of installing extremely old items due to the lack of info available. Simply put, a lot of antique fireplaces and stoves should not be used anymore.
Buying someone’s used fireplace or stove can often times prove to be a great deal. Reputable brands in the hearth industry build their products to high standards so you know the product will be built to last. Do your homework, ask the right questions, and inspect with a watchful eye and you might have a steal on your hands.
Without verification, or if the product clearly has wear & tear to it, it might be better suited for someone else. In this case the risk of a defective or neglected product will outweigh any cost benefits and you’d be better suited buying a new product you know will have a great warranty and many years ahead of it. It’s important to understand value here, because even though it might end up costing you more right away, you’ll be spending and risking less in the end.