Fireplace just installed - not performing

Hi, We just installed a Majestic BC36 fireplace and I'm not very impressed with the heat output. Maybe I'm doing something wrong? The area being heated is about 800 square feet (living room, dining room, and kitchen) and has a 16' cathedral ceiling over the living room. We have blocked off the rest of the house either by curtains or shutting doors to keep the heat in that one area, the house is only 10 years old and well insulated. But I can only get the temperature up to 58F in the living room with the fireplace burning full tilt (it is about 32F outside today). I have the fireplace vented to outside air and it has glass doors on the front, the damper is supposedly non adjustable (all the way open or closed). There is also a circulation fan installed in the fireplace that evidently draws air in through the top vents of the fireplace, circulates it around the firebox, and puts it out in the bottom vents, but it is a meager air supply. I've even tried putting a small fan in front of the lower air vents and it does seem to draw more heat through, but not enough to make much of a difference. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions, or was my expectation for this fireplace just too high? Perhaps if I could modify the damper to keep it partially closed it would make a difference?
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You might try a couple of ceiling fans? Tom
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Hi, We do have a big ceiling fan in the highest area of the ceiling. When I walk up the stairs (up towards the ceiling fan) I don't feel any warmer air at the top of the stairs as I do at the bottom, so I don't think all the heat is hanging out at the ceiling. However just for kicks, I'm going to check the temperature up there as opposed to at the floor level.
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As I suspected, the temperature at the top of the stairs is identical to the temperature at floor level, currently 56F.
I was inspecting the damper and if I had a metal pipe or rod of some kind, I could prop it up to keep the damper partially closed and see if that makes a difference.
Also I was told that the glass doors increase effeciency. But when they're shut, I don't feel much heat at all from the fireplace. It's almost like it's all going up the chimney. When they're open, I feel quite a bit of heat. I'm assuming that when they're shut, the wood will burn slower but more effeciently, and when they're open, I'll get a stronger burst of heat, but it will burn out faster. Does anyone know how this is supposed to work?
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You mentioned a circulation fan in the ductwork of the fireplace. This fan should be drawing air from the floor vents, and expelling it out the upper vents, not vice-versa. My old "heatilator" fireplace gets to putting out some serious heat through the top vents, with no circulating fan needed. Maybe the ducting is clogged? Perhaps try to reverse the fan's operation? Tom
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What kind of wood are you burning, and how much of it? Is there any kind of air-intake that lets it suck air from in the room and throw it up the chimney? Does the circulator fan have variable speed settings? Is the air coming out hot, or just warm? I'm thinking that 800 sqft, half of which has a 16' ceiling is probably more volume than the fireplace is capable of heating well, and you may have to switch to an actual stove. If you blow smoke in the room, where does it go? You may be circulating air unintentionally through the rest of the house, or just be pumping heat through an uninsulated interior wall or floor. What are temperatures like in the rest of the house, and are you running any other heating plant for them?
Wood, depending on type and dryness, should generate somewhere between 5 and 9 BTU/pound. (or 18-24 million BTU/cord) I'd be surprised if a fireplace managed to deliver more than 40% of that to the room, I'd expect it to average closer to 25%.

Modifying the damper might improve your efficiency, but unless you're somehow getting indoor air into the combustion box and throwing it up the chimney, restricting airflow should LOWER your total heat output.
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A quick look at the web page for that unit shows no specification for heat output. (BTUs) Such numbers are routinely spec'ed for woodstoves and fireplace inserts. There is also no suggestion that it introduces superheated air into the firebox, or uses a catalyst to burn off unburned smoke, like most EPA appoved woodstoves or fireplace inserts. I would not expect much heat from such a unit. But then again, I have no real experience with it, just with an EPA approved fireplace insert, which has heated my house for the last few years.
Bob
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The circulation fan is a problem. I called the retailer we bought it from and he said that it should indeed be blowing hot air out of the TOP. So now we have it apart and the circulation fan is blowing the right direction, but in order to get it to actually blow anything out of the top we have to hold it up about three inches from where it's supposed to sit. I don't know what's going on here but we're going to work at it and see if we can make it work a little better somehow.
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IMO and experence those fireplaces are of no practical use for heating a house but look nice with the fire behind the doors. With the doors shut most of the heat goes up and out and with them open you create more body heat burning up energy throwing logs on than it puts out, as it burns so fast. When you go to bed it lets the room heat go up and out when the fire burns down and you can't close the damper until the fire is out. I put in an "air tight" wood insert into the hole and now get heat and fuel efficiency, the insert will burn all night. Nothing like wood heat, but those fireplaces are just plain worthless for heating. Sorry about your choice.
CR
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Oh and to answer the questions, our wood is a bit wet right now so it's probably not burning great. We just brought it in the basement to dry. We've burned maybe four full size logs a day (split). We haven't really filled it up really well, just sort of kept it burning. It takes in outside air straight from a duct from the looks of it, I can turn it on or off with a lever. The past few days have been really windy too, I don't know if that is affecting the heat output. The chimney is double wall air cooled, vented to outside.
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Are the doors rated to be closed with the fire going? Many are not. The glass will not let the heat come into the room.
Fire places are for looking at. Most of the heat in a house will go up the chimley. The wood should be cut for a long time or much of the heat will goto boiling the water out of the wood. For wood cut about 1 foot lengthwise it is about 6 months drying time. Longer will take much more time. The diameter or if it is split or not does not seem to mater much. Trees are made to suck water up longways so ineffect you have a bunch of long tubes.
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cthorne wrote:

You can try various things but don't get your hopes up. Fireplaces are a very poor way to heat a house in spite of all the advertising claiming that the air circulation types will do it. I had a heatilator and it was totally worthless other than as a way to get rid of firewood.
A fireplace. as someone else said is for looks, that's about it. Replace it with a wood stove if you are serious about heating with wood.
Harry K
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Harry, Sounds like the motors electric leads must have been hooked backward. In certain motors that can make a simple electric motor run backward. Im glad you got it figured out. I love my fireplace for making smores but for heating my living room it is not useful. It was better when the heatilator was first installed but over time it is a bit frusterating if you are expecting it to really heat. I just changed my mindset about how I was using the fireplace. I use it on mild temperature nights to make smores and cook hotdogs with the kids and to enjoy the ambiance. Besides that.... I close the damper and it is an attractive centerpiece for the livingroom. I know it sounds defeatest but it may work to just think of your fireplace differently.
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