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Old 09-13-2012, 10:23 PM   #1
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Do fireplaces have vents?


OK this is going to sound real dumb.

I have owned several houses in the Miami area and they all had fireplaces, I have never used them because, well because the coldest winter days are like in the 40s.

But I am curious why there seem to be vent covers on this fireplace. What purpose does it serve? There is one in each corner around the fireplace.



and I opened the cover and there is a chamber that leads somewhere.



What are these and what is their purpose?

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Old 09-13-2012, 10:38 PM   #2
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Do fireplaces have vents?


It's a heatolater.
Cold air gets sucked in at the bottom, it gets heated and warm air comes out the top.

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Old 09-13-2012, 10:40 PM   #3
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Do fireplaces have vents?


I have not seen vents in fireplace, but it could be to aid in the draft perhaps.

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Old 09-13-2012, 11:39 PM   #4
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Do fireplaces have vents?


" a chamber that leads somewhere." You stay here and I'll go see where it goes. Guess which one of us dies in the next scene after I go off doing the dangerous part.
I gotta edit joe's answer, if he'll allow me. How's he gonna stop me? he won't even see me asking permission until I've already done it.
Cold air,which Floridians import by insulated tanker ship from Alaska, gets sucked in at the bottom, it gets heated and warm air comes out the top, where it is collected and shipped back so Alaskans can run their air conditioners.
heatolater i bet that name is not as old as the concept. Probably pre-Roman at least. I've seen andiron like gizmos that attempt to do similar job, pipes under logs open end towards room,, bent up back and over logs, open back towards room. Air goes in bottom, heated air out top. Fire places barely more efficient than open fires, safer in living room though.
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Old 09-14-2012, 12:01 AM   #5
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Do fireplaces have vents?


I just figured the O/P did not want to be burdened with all the fine details so I left that info out. Thanks for filling in the blanks.

Trying to use an open fire place like that for heat makes as much since as and works as well as leaving a door wide open. The best part is you loose heat and A/C out of it all year long cost you money.

Where does it get it's make up air, by sucking in the air from other rooms. What happens when you have a negative pressure in a home and it's cold outside, it sucks it into the house through every crack it can find and spits it out the chimmney as unused BTU's.
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Old 09-14-2012, 12:39 AM   #6
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Do fireplaces have vents?


sucking cold air into house and spitting warm air out chimney...Thankfully modern technology has solved those problems . Sucking cold air into house? Install vent from outside to fire place! warm air from house still goes up chimney. Install glass over fire place! Heats glass up, glass warms anything within 2 inches but can't hear crackling fire. Buy recording of crackling fire. Smoke and pitch all over glass, can't see fire. Get video of fireplace. Miss that aroma of apple wood, pecan, even pinon pine? Burn incense. Incense sure makes it smoky in here we need to put in some kind of thing that would get smoke out.
Technology even improved that pipe andiron. First one I saw was at a friends, didn't help much. Next time I was over there he'd replaced it with one that had a fan, had a box type thing in back instead of pipes. Next time I visited, chimney flue closed, electric radiant heater in fire place.
Say, wheres miamicuse? He was right here when I went to see where that chamber lead. You wait here, I'll go see if I can find him.
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Last edited by notmrjohn; 09-14-2012 at 12:42 AM.
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Old 09-15-2012, 12:40 AM   #7
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Do fireplaces have vents?


That's why we have a cast iron stove in our fireplace. The beast heats the whole room up and then some, with a bare minimum of smoke.

Hard to beat the price of a couple pieces of wood to heat most the house up on a cold night.

Last edited by weekendwarrior9; 09-15-2012 at 12:43 AM.
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Old 09-15-2012, 08:17 AM   #8
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Do fireplaces have vents?


As has been metioned, the vents draw room air across and over the unit, and emit worm air out of the top. Most work through convection, but there is also an option for small fans to be installed in the bottom vents. Contrary to "popular belief", they actually do heat fairly decent when burning. It's true that they can allow a large amount of warm air out of the residence when not burning, and they also serve as a "cold sink" due to the expansive amount of masonry exposed to the exterior.

THat being said, I know a few folks that have them and are pleased with them. My neighbor is actually a mason as well, and 80-90% of his heating is done with a 42" see-thru masonry inset. He even has 2 vents trunked off to adjacent rooms......

http://yourwayfireplaces.com/docs/Ve...0Fireplace.pdf
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Old 09-15-2012, 11:00 AM   #9
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warrior, Ben Franklin had a lot of good ideas, that stove was one of his great ones. In ol' timey days pot belly and other stoves were right out in the middle of the room so folks could sit all around it. Many of the worlds problems, ( war, poverty, drought, inflation, recession, etc are a thing of the past thanks to geniuses gathered 'round down at the general store. Often the stove pipe does not go straight up, but across the room below the ceiling, sometimes thru wall into other room, to try to use some of the heat passing thru. Took some knowledge to get right length and slope, to prevent back drafts and so gases didn't cool too much to rise and draw. Luckily geniusses were at hand, so only occaisional room filling belch of smoke. Cartoonists always draw top of stove pipe with a double ell, even if it has a rain?wind cap, ells were to "prevent" wind from blowing down giving stove an upset pot belly.
jo, its not just "popular belief," lots of tests done by nerdy unpopular engineers have shown that open hearth fire place is barely barely better than open fire under hole in roof. Some designs actually rob entire house of more heat when burning than when not. Though immediate area may be warmer due to radiant heat. If by " see-thru masonry insert" you mean that glass fronted, outside draw hearth that i laughed at, when combined with heatolaters ( gotta love that word), ducts, vents, scary chambers, conducters, convecters, radiaters, etc. in fireplace and chimney, it is an improvement and, as you say, do fairly decent job, emphasis on fairly.
A big chunk of masonry is a cold sink, actually a heat sink but you knew that since you used quotes.( them nerdy engineers say there's no such thing as cold.) But once heated that chunk is a heat battery and becomes a heat emitter. One reason fire places in old castles are so huge and massive, bigger batery. And there's the Dutch stove, big block of masonry covered in decorative tile; the shepeard's bed of US Southwest, via Spain, big wide and long topped adobe inefficient open hearth fireplace. Build a fire, heat up 'dobe, sleep on top.
The direct connection between interior and exterior masonry is a a great conductor of heat to outside,, trying to "heat the entire neighborhood." Lots of ingenious attempts to aleviate that. like stone fireplace with wattle and mud chimney, POOF!. Over at the castle they tried a short chimney, poking up and free standing inside a bigger chimney coming down just enough to cover it. The whole thing inside a room of its own, cause they leaked. Before the age of enlightenment and Ben Franklin and the rise of unpopular engineers to see those rooms, historians thought they were inside smoke houses or even execution chambers where out of favor wives or overly presumptive heirs could be asphyxiated and preserved in one step. Later on they ran isolated flues inside isolated chimneys, which, while not preventing regicide, is how lots are done today.
But any system that openly burns fuel without outside draft and some sort of heat exchanger is inherently inefficient. the Romans knew that and invented central heating, heated swimming pools and radiant floor heating. They had to do that floor thing since they weren't fairly decent, rolling around on cold floors put a crimp in their fairly indecent orgie activities. Guess you could say them Romans was hot stuff.
Anybody seen joe? Wait here I'll go see if I can find him.
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Last edited by notmrjohn; 09-15-2012 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 09-15-2012, 01:47 PM   #10
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Do fireplaces have vents?


As a masonry contractor who's done his fair share of research and installation of numerous natural masonry fireplaces in high end homes, I'm not even going to bother with a response to your attempt at a pre-face to a novel. I gave the OP what they where asking for and an illustration of how it works. I have no interest in discussing "nerdy engineer's" theories................
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Old 09-15-2012, 02:23 PM   #11
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Do fireplaces have vents?


Jeeze, sorry, jomama. I didn't know I had to get pre-approval of content to post.

" I'm not even going to bother with a response to your attempt at a pre-face to a novel." then why did you? " gave the OP what they where asking for and an illustration of how it works, " that had already been done, but so what. Nothing wrong with repeating it, its done all the time here. It is a "popular belief" that open fire places are an inefficient home heating system, OK, fairly inefficient, which is a synonymn for fairly decent, depending on what you're comparing to.. The belief just happens to be backed up by research, but what do engineers know, with there fancy thermometers and air flow meters and charts and all. I bet none of them have ever built a fire place for a rich man.
There is an ignore feature here, if my novels disturb you so much, use it.
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Old 09-15-2012, 03:00 PM   #12
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Do fireplaces have vents?


My fireplace vents are tied into the return duct system, so it supplements the forced air heat throughout the rest of the house.
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Old 09-15-2012, 04:49 PM   #13
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Do fireplaces have vents?


jim, it seems like you' d lose the benefit of the heated air from the "heatolater" when the central unit wasn't running. Some arrangement or other get around that?
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Old 09-15-2012, 05:24 PM   #14
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Do fireplaces have vents?


Quote:
Originally Posted by notmrjohn
jim, it seems like you' d lose the benefit of the heated air from the "heatolater" when the central unit wasn't running. Some arrangement or other get around that?
If the central unit isn't running, that means the thermostat is communicating that it's warm enough in the house. Seems logical to me. ???
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Old 09-15-2012, 06:20 PM   #15
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Do fireplaces have vents?


Quote:
Originally Posted by notmrjohn View Post
Jeeze, sorry, jomama. I didn't know I had to get pre-approval of content to post.

" I'm not even going to bother with a response to your attempt at a pre-face to a novel." then why did you? " gave the OP what they where asking for and an illustration of how it works, " that had already been done, but so what. Nothing wrong with repeating it, its done all the time here. It is a "popular belief" that open fire places are an inefficient home heating system, OK, fairly inefficient, which is a synonymn for fairly decent, depending on what you're comparing to.. The belief just happens to be backed up by research, but what do engineers know, with there fancy thermometers and air flow meters and charts and all. I bet none of them have ever built a fire place for a rich man.
There is an ignore feature here, if my novels disturb you so much, use it.

And there-in lies the real problem. They often mistaking mistreat open fireplaces as a conventional heating appliance like a forced air furnace, wood stove, etc.... when testing. Although a unit like the OP's gives off convective heat, it's not it's sole heating purpose, merely an added benefit. When you test a product on how it performs in every category other than what it excells at, your bound to get erronious results. From what I recall from research in the past, theres 8-10 different accepted approached for rating efficiencies of wood fired heat sources. Picking & choosing the optimal results that best suits your objective is something that happens on a regular basis..........

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