Due to the steep depreciation of new cars, buyers can often purchase similar used vehicles in excellent condition at a lower cost. Does the same principle apply to heating appliances? There are definitely times when it makes good sense, but also times when it does not. The following questions and other relevant considerations will help you determine whether or not to buy a particular used fireplace or stove.
What to ask Previous Owners of Fireplaces and Stoves
The condition of a used fireplace or stove is one of the most important factors that should help you determine whether it’s a good buy or not. In the same way that used car buyers kick the tires or take a test drive, you need to check out the appliance, ask questions, and try to determine what its true condition really is. Here are some good questions to ask the seller:
- Have you been happy with this product? If so, why are you selling it?
- How often was the fireplace or stove used?
- Was early usage heavier than more recent usage?
- Has the appliance ever needed repair?
- What type of fuel has been burnt in it? Was the wood seasoned?
- Did the appliance have maintenance at least annually?
- What was the original value and/or cost of the fireplace or stove?
- Is there any warranty left on the product?
Beware of hidden costs
Getting a good bargain on a fireplace or a wood stove that is in good condition is only part of the equation, when determining whether or not to buy. Installing a fireplace or a stove can be just as expensive as the product itself. In fact, between the cost of chimney pipe and labor, the expense of getting everything right so that the appliance can be safely used may be greater than the cost of the pre-owned fireplace or stove itself. If you are enclosing the stove pipe of an used fireplace in a new wall, is the life of the appliance worth that expense? Make sure to be aware of all associated costs.
Other considerations follow
- Does the appliance meet current building codes and insurance requirements? Standards have changed significantly over the past five years.
- Check with your trusted fireplace maintenance company to find out whether they are willing to install the used fireplace or stove you are thinking about buying. The reality is that most reputable fireplace companies will not take on the liability of installing items that are extremely old, largely because there is a lack of needed information to ensure safety.
- The brand is important to consider because two stoves of the same age are not equally valuable when one is made well and the other is not.
If the fireplace or stove has obvious signs of excessive wear and tear, the best decision would be to pass on the opportunity. You’d be better off buying a new product because any cost benefits you might have in a used appliance are lost if it is already nearing the end of its usefulness.
Did you know that converting your fireplace could be another way to save money? Learn more!