The typical house has either no fireplaces or one fireplace. The amount of fireplaces in a house is not restricted statewide. Some local communities have restrictions on the number of fireplaces in a residential dwelling, but that is a rare occurrence.
In theory, each room could contain a fireplace. Before electricity, fireplaces provided heat for homes in the winter. This was especially necessary for northern regions where it would be too cold without a heat source.
Tenement buildings would include a fireplace in each room. Fireplaces are much less common now, but imagine a building with 40 or more fireplaces. That would be a lot of chimneys.
You can have multiple fireplaces in multiple rooms, or you can have one fireplace in multiple rooms. A trendy feature of fireplaces includes putting it in a wall between two rooms so you can see the fire from both sides.
There are even some fireplaces that conjoin three rooms. The benefit of this style is that you can have multiple rooms with a fireplace while only needing one chimney.
Looking to become more self-sufficient? Join me and 14,000 others on Abundance Plus and get discounts, masterclasses, community, and more.
Is There Any Legal Limit?
There are no federal or statewide legal limits to how many fireplaces you can have in your house. Cities create their own restrictions that can go more in-depth than their statewide counterparts.
Some cities, such as San Joaquin Valley, have ordinances that restrict the number of fireplaces in a residence, but that is much less common than restrictions on the usage of fireplaces based on air pollution standards.
To meet these restrictions, cities (and some states) will indicate days where people who own wood-burning units are not allowed to burn anything in order to not add to air pollution.
In large cities where smog is a problem, it is understandable that they wouldn’t want thousands of residents with fireplaces adding to the buildup in the air. If you would like to see these restrictions for yourself, check out this page from the EPA explaining wood-burning appliances regulations.
There are no federal building codes regarding how many fireplaces there can be in a house. The federal codes about fireplaces only indicate how far away combustible material needs to be from the fireplace.
Local building codes take precedence over federal codes, so be sure to check your local codes if you are looking into installing fireplaces in your home. It’s possible there are local restrictions.
Can You Legally Have a Fireplace In Your Bedroom?
Not only can you legally have a fireplace in your bedroom, but it is actually one of the three most common places for a fireplace along with the great room and outdoor living space. This site shows some example images of different locations and types of fireplaces.
Fireplaces are known for adding to a sense of comfort, warmth, and peace. Besides the living room, the bedroom is where you would likely most want these feelings. Imagine staying in bed on a cold winter day with a fire crackling close by.
One consideration when using a fireplace in the bedroom is that fireplaces naturally carry some amount of risk. The obvious risk is starting a fire outside the fireplace. If there is a spark that drifts or you don’t have an enclosure around the fire, it can spread very quickly.
Fires use oxygen to keep burning, so if you don’t have the ventilation system set up, you run the risk of using up the oxygen in your room. Another problem you can run into with bad ventilation is a buildup of carbon monoxide.
Thankfully, there are oxygen and carbon monoxide detectors that can alert you before something bad happens. Regardless, fires are never absolutely safe, which is one reason people may not be comfortable with fireplaces in their bedrooms where they are most vulnerable.
With that being said, modern fireplaces have much more safety features built-in than fireplaces of the past. If you are still concerned about fireplace safety issues, this webpage mentions problems that can come with owning a fireplace and mentions how to avoid these problems. When the installation is done right, you are reasonably safe.
Do Fireplaces Add Value to a Home?
There is an argument between realtors and buyers about whether or not fireplaces add value to a home. Realtors will tell you they do.
Statistics produced by studies and surveys taken by realtors indicate building a fireplace in a home will increase its value by up to $5,000 or increase the value by 6-12%, according to a survey done by Angie’s List.
Realtors describe fireplaces as luxurious, charming, and nostalgic. Fireplaces are apparently often listed on the wanted-features lists. Realtors even claim that 40% of homebuyers stated they would are willing to pay more for a house if it included a fireplace.
Altogether, this information from realtors suggests that fireplaces are an important part of homes and well worth the price of installation. Meanwhile, other statistics point to the opposite.
A survey by the National Association of Homebuyers shows that the importance of fireplaces ranks much lower than indicated by realtors.
The argument by homebuyers is that fireplaces are now considered more of a luxury-home item, and the average buyer doesn’t want to spend extra money for a fireplace.
Plus, the market is moving so quickly that the extra time and money it would take to install a fireplace when the house would sell fine without it just isn’t worth the hassle.
The desire for fireplaces is fairly regional. It is more likely that a fireplace is seen as a necessary feature in the mid-Atlantic region or the Northwest Central region.
As you might expect, in places where it gets extremely cold, a fireplace holds much more value than it would in the South. This is shown also in the breakdown of how many houses currently have fireplaces.
Does Every House Have a Fireplace?
Fireplaces are definitely not a universal aspect of every house. It’s easy to imagine they would be if you grew up with a fireplace in the house. They make a nice centerpiece to a living room, and they have the functionality of working as a heat source.
Now, though, there are many other more practical ways of keeping warm, and televisions have taken over as the typical centerpiece of the living room. You could even pull up a video of a crackling fire if you wanted to replicate the feeling.
The U.S. Census Bureau releases statistics on fireplaces every year, and the results show a steady decline in the popularity of fireplaces. In 1990, 34% of new homes were built with no fireplace. Now, (as of 2019), that number is 61% with no fireplace.
The number has risen and fallen in the past, but in recent years there has been a steady and noticeable decline to the point where we are at the lowest number of new houses built with fireplaces ever.
This article gives a good breakdown of the statistics from the Census Bureau and then goes into more detail on different types of fireplaces.
The decline in fireplace popularity could be due to the advances we’ve made in heating in recent years, it could be due to a need for lower housing costs, or it could be due to any number of small reasons added up.
More studies and surveys would be needed to learn the why, but it is clear from the census that fireplaces in homes are becoming less and less common.
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Fireplace Tips, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Chimney Safety Institute of North America (CSIA): The CSIA is your BEST resource for fireplace and chimney safety at home. They’re a non-profit governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals.
- Self-Sufficiency and Off-Grid: If you’re like me and passionate about off-grid and self-sufficiency, see my number 1 resource—Abundance Plus. Check out their Frugal Homesteading Course on growing 90% of your own food. Get 7-days free and 10% off with the code: TYLER10