Chimney, Fireplace, Windows and Energy

Hi:
I'm new to this group and wondered if anyone had any advice about the following:
We have an old house with a nice old granite fireplace which seems to let in a lot of cold air. It also doesn't allow passive solar heating during the day, as the adjoining room (both south-facing) does, which has windows. We don't use the fireplace, and won't. Does it make sense to knock it down and put in energy-efficient windows across the south-facing wall, adding heat and light during the day? We're not planning on selling the house -- at least within 10-15 years. We live in a Northwestern marine climate (Tacoma): lots of rain, not too hot in the summer, down to about 20F in the winter.
Thanks for any help
Art
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It may reduce the resale value but it depends on what you ultimately do to make up for it. If you believe this modification better suits your lifestyle then go for it. You can always put in a gas fireplace in a different location if you want, much less substantial chimney is needed for those. Unvented models are also available, you could have your fireplace and your windows.
You might even be able to dispose of the bricks for free, try a post on craigslist for example. They can be used for fill or cleaned off and reused.

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Art wrote:

Off the top of my head:
Will removing the nice granite work devalue the home when it *is* time to sell?
Get a dollar est from a contractor to do the removal. Weigh that cost too.
Is there a flue in the chimney work for furnace/water heater? If so, there will be a big expense to get around that.
Jim
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A fireplace increases a houses value, block off the chimney with a baloon designed to stop out drafts, I just covered my opening with foamboard and atached magnetic tape, on the fireplace I screwed in steel L channel. You might consider an efficient stove insert.
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Thanks for all the helpful advice and suggestions: exactly what I was looking for. I really like the idea of the greenhouse on the exterior wall around the fireplace. Just to make sure I understand what you're suggesting: a door on one side of the fireplace leading to a glassed in 'greenhouse/porch' (perhaps a large window on the other side of the fireplace to light the room?), with vents moving air from the greenhouse/porch area into the living room? This sounds very nice. As for blocking the chimney/fireplace -- didn't quite understand the suggestion. You covered the opening on the roof with foamboard? May I ask what L-channel is?
Thanks again for all the help -- very much appreciated!
Art
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Your fireplace damper is leaking out and up air, [ all do] it is costing you money, sealing it up with a special baloon inside the flue or I used foam board painted black inside the interior opening to seal out cold air convecting in and hot air from rising up and out.
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What I was envisioning for the greenhouse was something like this:
www.goedjn.com/sketch/greenhouse.gif
You need at least one low opening, which would normally be a door, and at least one high opening, which could be a vent or a window. All the other details depend on how much greenhouse you can afford/want, whether the chimney is interior or exterior, how close you are to your setback line, and whether the greenhouse blocks any egress windows on the upper floor(s)
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The Balloon idea for stopping the cold draft from the chimney I think was referring to a Chimney Balloon like the one on this website www.chimneyballoon.us They run for $40-$50
I like the thought of the greenhouse too, MY wife would LOVE if i put in a greenhouse! Although that is a rather high cost option, it would likely be less than removing the chimney all together.
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Greenhouses don't have to be terribly expensive, but they certainly can be depending on the model and style.
Question: does this fireplace take up the entire wall? Might you leave the fireplace and chimney, but have the walls knocked out (granite or whatever) and put in some windows. If you combined this with the greenhouse idea, you would end up with a semi-freestanding fireplace, which can be very nice.
-Kevin
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Thanks again for more interesting ideas. The sketch is helpful: those are just about exactly the proportions of our fireplace/wall. No, Kevin, the fireplace only takes up about a third of the total length of the wall, so putting in windows and a door to the greenhouse would work. Besides cost, I have to think about how this would look on this old house -- it seems, at least from a heat/light/environmental standpoint -- like a good idea.
Thanks again. If we decide to do this I'll report back.
Art
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You can't just improve the damper-arrangement so it stops leaking air, and stick a greenhouse on the outside wall where the chimney is? If you do that with a door and a couple of high vents, you will gain a little bit of living space, and a LOT of solar gain that you can shut off when you want to.
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