Fireplace heat exchanger question

Hey All, We have a small wood burning fireplace. There is a small push/pull lever near the base of the fireplace which seems to open a small door on the outside wall of the house to let air into the fireplace.
We also have an electrical switch near the fireplace which appears to activate...nothing! We can't find an outlet or light anywhere in the room that is operated by the switch.
Here's my question:
Is this switch is supposed to operate some kind of blower for the fireplace to help with the heat exchanger? Maybe it's not working or was never installed?
Are heat exchangers supposed to be purely mechanical devices, or do some have a blower involved? Our fireplace has vents on the top that look like they are supposed to blow air out, but they never blow anything...
Thanks for any ideas!
Drew
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wrote:

That is corrrect. The ones I've seen are usually small cheap fans that do have a tendency to sieze up after a few years. They are often located just behind some inlet vents close to the floor.
I think my next house will have only a free standing cast iron wood burning stove.

Exactly. I'm sure that most of your heat is going up the chimney.

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Drew wrote:

Don't know what the push/pull lever is for. Could be for air, or could open and close a damper on the fireplace, most likely the latter if you don't havanother damper lever.
Many or most of the double walled steel fireplaces have fans. So the switch is probably for that. Often these fans cease operation and getting to them to replace or repair can be a bugger. Maybe the switch isn't hot, i.e., it's on a line with the breaker tripped.
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The exterior vent is to allow outside air in to feed the stove. It's a way to solve several problems involving drawing air from inside the house and expelling it. Often times fires will burn poorly if your house is too well weather sealed, another problem can be drawing a cold draft into another part of the house while the stove is running.
The switch on the wall could have been for an additional blower to move the warm air from around the stove to another part of the house. I find it hard to believe that someone would wall mount a switch for the blower attached to the stove, normally the switch for that is located on the fan itself.
Good luck discovering where the switch leads, there are toners that you can connect to an electric line and then check for that line in the breaker. You might be able to purchase one of these and use it to check around the room for the wires that are connected to the switch.
http://www.davis.com/showpage.asp?L3ID 8
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One is the outside air kit. The light switch is the fan pre-wire. You will have an electrical plus behind the bottom louver to plug in an optional fan. IMO, skip the fan and go with a ceiling fan. Fireplace fans aren't much on most units.
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John Galbreath Jr.
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