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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,



I apologize if this is not the correct topic thread for this situation.



I have a wood burning fireplace that is in the lower level of my house - (tri-level). It is an old fireplace that is super drafty. Since the room is under ground level, it already is chilly in our Wisconsin winter. I am trying to find some good ways to reduce the draft.



There is a switch that turns on a motor behind the fireplace that draws in air from the outside (I think). We never use this feature when we have a fire going, thus I wanted to get thoughts on whether I could stuff insulation down the back of this air intake hole located on the exterior wall of the house located behind the fireplace and where the chimney stack runs near the ground. I am nervous to do so as I might be wrong and perhaps this is an air intake for the furnace or some other housing feature I might not know about.



I am sure the biggest culprit of my drafty fireplace issue is the age of the fireplace and the chimney, but would insulating this air intake hole help or be advised?



Thanks!



R
 

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Yes, I agree with you, possibly that is a concentric vent for an he furnace or water heater. No. I wouldn't block/plug it.

As far as the cold draft, wood burning fireplaces are notorious for that. Check and make sure the motor on draft vent is working properly and closed when not in use. As you mentioned, with age it's possible there may have been some settling and it's not making a good seal.

The hvac techs will be along shortly to give you some tips and options.
 

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That could be a real circulating fireplace where that fan draws air in and then out those top vents thereby providing a bit more heat than purely radiant, though still inefficient. Look on that furnace for names and numbers and maybe you can find some literature.
 

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I am sure the biggest culprit of my drafty fireplace issue is the age of the fireplace and the chimney, but would insulating this air intake hole help or be advised?
The air intake allows the fireplace to use outdoor air for combustion and to a lesser extent venting which minimizes the impact of fireplace operation. Normally fireplaces use a lot of indoor air to vent, the draft isn't controlled well and a lot of indoor air you paid to heat gets lost.

The best thing you can do is reduce damper leakage when the fireplace is not in use and make sure the intake is closed.

The fan is probably not for the intake, normally intakes are passive and there may be a damper you can close.

Google chimney balloon. You put it up there and inflate it when the fireplace isn't in use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks to everyone for their replies!

Google chimney balloon. You put it up there and inflate it when the fireplace isn't in use.
@user_12345a: Thanks for the tip on the chimney balloon.

I've been doing loads of research on that and wanted to ask if there are any thoughts about using rock wool insulation and stuffing it up the chimney flue immediately above the damper? It would then be removed when using the fireplace.

Seems like that would be essentially the same concept then the balloon but a little cheaper! Or is that just a big no-no? :vs_no_no_no:

Any thoughts welcomed!

Cheers,

~R
 

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Be it a balloon or rockwool the results would be the same when initially trying to start a fire. The advantage of a balloon would be the heat could pop it and open the chimney. In either case a sign hanging down could help advise someone tying to light a fire.

In the insulation business it is common practice to stuff a trash bag with insulation and stuff that into a floor cavity to prevent air flow. Maybe?

As for the cold basement, the chimney is only part of the problem. Where the house rests on the foundation is a frequent source of leakage. If that is not accessable to investigate I would suggest an energy auditor with a blower door and infrared camera. Especially when it is cold he would be able to find all leak areas and give you an indication where to start.

We have some threads on the forum with pictures of what they found.

Bud
 

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roxul alone will allow some air movement through the chimney, roxul in a bag may work better.

bud has a good point about making sure a fire is never started until chimney is unblocked. the other advice about basement insulation is good too.
 

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The fresh air kit on our Pacific Energy stove is basically a 4" dryer vent with the flapper removed and a screen covering the hole to keep criters out.

I made a cover that I install over the fresh air kit, that I remove whenever we build a fire.

Basically it's just (2) of those styrofoam covers that are made to cover up your outside faucets in the wintertime.

It works well & was inexpensive and easy to make.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I would suggest an energy auditor with a blower door and infrared camera. Especially when it is cold he would be able to find all leak areas and give you an indication where to start.

We have some threads on the forum with pictures of what they found.

Bud
Thanks Bud for this helpful reply. Indeed, it sounds like I need an energy audit with a blower door test! I just stuffed the flue with insulation in a bag and left a reminder note inside the fireplace. Seems to be helpful so far!

Thank you!

~R
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I made a cover that I install over the fresh air kit, that I remove whenever we build a fire.

Basically it's just (2) of those styrofoam covers that are made to cover up your outside faucets in the wintertime.

It works well & was inexpensive and easy to make.
This is brilliant HenryMac! I'll look into making one of these! Thanks for the tip.

Cheers,

~R
 

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Just to add a note (easy to spend your money) as you know a traditional fireplace is a disaster in terms of energy efficiency. But I'm also one who loves to sit and watch a fire, so relaxing, be it a fireplace or camp fire. So my choice for my current home is a sealed glass door wood stove. I bought a smaller one so it doesn't drive me out when I have a nice fire. Newer ones even duct in outside air.

My next will probably be a pellet stove, still something to watch but no wood to carry.

So add to your dream list an insert for that drafty beast.

Enjoy
Bud
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So add to your dream list an insert for that drafty beast.
Thanks Bud! So you mention an insert. I went to a fireplace store a few weeks ago to inquire about inserts and I took photos of my current, drafty beast, and the salesperson said that an insert wouldn't help. He said it would like be too heavy to put into the existing fireplace and that it wouldn't reduce draft. He advised that I get the current fireplace ripped out, which would require removing some bricks, and then putting in a whole new fireplace. Naturally, this would be to the tune of ~$8,000!

Any thoughts or good websites on inserts? They seem like the solution for my situation, but I was perplexed to hear this store say it wasn't an option. I'm planning on visiting another shop in the area to get their feedback...

Cheers,

~R
 

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First, does your current chimney flue serve just the fireplace or is it shared with your furnace or boiler. If shared it becomes a different story.

Burning wood in a sealed combustion fireplace may be able to function with a smaller diameter flue. A pellet stove certainly does.

As for fitting an insert into your current fireplace, no direct experience so as you said, talk to another store. I did a quick search and there certainly are many sites to read.

Key points, IMO, would be sealed combustion, drawing combustion air from the outside, but because they are more efficient they will use far less air than a fireplace. That might make using inside air tolerable.

Collect as much info as you can, this isn't a inexpensive switch so you want to be sure the end result will be as pleasing as you would expect. Possibly ask to see some of the installations they have done, some customers may be willing.

Bud
 
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You mentioned something about stuffing insulation inside the chimney to keep down the draft when the fireplace is not in use. Instead of doing that, what I use is a chimney damper that attaches to the top of the flue. Cable drops down the flue and mounts in the firebox and opens with simple control handle. https://www.chimneydirect.com/lyemance-top-sealing-chimney-damper


My masonry fireplace was built in 1965. It doesn't feel drafty to me but I use the control handle inside the firebox to close/open the chimney damper as needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks kcdmps for this information. I just came across what you have when I was doing further research. I appreciate your response and am thinking when I get the chase cover replaced to also get the closeable cap as well.

Cheers!
~R
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
First, does your current chimney flue serve just the fireplace or is it shared with your furnace or boiler. If shared it becomes a different story.
Thanks Bud! The flue is not shared with the water heater. I can see that flue on the other side of the roof. I'll also confirm with the plumber who is replacing the water heater in two weeks!

I appreciate all your help and will do what I do best - research away until I think I've got the right product and solution that will work best for my home. :smile:

Happy Halloween!

~R
 
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