That sucking air is a myth. A fireplace may not heat a whole house but
in a room that is occupied most often will save on heat costs as the
t-stat can be lowered and the chill will not be noticed. I wouldnt buy
a house without a fireplace.
Could you elaborate a bit?
Fires need oxygen to burn. Exhaust gasses are vented up an open chimney.
Make up air has to come in from some place. Sure some heat is radiated back
to the room, but how can you be sure that more is radiated back than goes up
the chimney? Keeping in mind that there is always an exception to any
"rule", and that generalities are generally wrong, perhaps a bit of
explanation would help here. Myth all the time? Some of the time? None of
Testing a fireplace is relatively simple. On a
cold day with the house temperature around 70,
turn off your primary heating system, start your
furnace, monitor the change in temperature. Limit
the heating are by closing of the room(s) with the
fireplace. Compare with another test with similar
temperatures but don't run the fireplace.
We have a fireplace that was built with the wrong
dimensions and it sucked heat out of the house.
The solution was to add a glass fireplace screen.
No more negative effect. Added a heat exchanger
(basically a box with a fan and connecting tubes
to move room air through the heated box) and
efficiency was vastly increased. However the
fireplace was still a poor heater compared to our
If the house is at the same temperature as the outside, lighting
lighting a fire in the fireplace will make at least that room
warmer. Some heat will be radiated out the of the fireplace,
and not all of the air thus heated will be ejected up the chimney.
Cold air will be sucked in from outside to replace the exhausted
air, but that can't be colder than the room was to start.
If, on the other hand, the room is heated by some means other
than the fire, then the amount of heat needed to heat the
replacement air may exceed the amount of heat radiated into
the room. This depends on the temperature of the outside air,
of the pre-heated inside air, and on the design of the fireplace.
If your house is heated to the cannonical 72F, and the outside
temperature is below freezing, then running an open fireplace
is likely to be a net loss. Unless you've got a really big
A glass or even wire firplace screen can be used to restrict
the amount of air into the firebox to that needed to actually
run the fire, but most people aren't interested in doing that
of course, if you're designing your house, one of the easiest
ways to fix this problem is to supply the fireplace with
combustion/exhaust air from somewhere that's not in the
heating envelope. I don't know if you can do anything using
the ash-pit in fireplaces built with them or not.
Not a myth at all. At least in my personal experience. I installed a
Heatilator (tm) recirculating fireplace back when. On a cold, cold day
I had a fire going. Thermostat was off. Kept chucking wood in and
watching the thermometer. It kept going DOWN.
Fireplaces are good only for two things.
b. Getting rid of firewood.
They are no good at all for heat other than directly in front of them.
Well, suppose your fireplace puts out 60,000 BTU and your house is
losing 80,000 BTU.
You are using free firewood for 60 and the other 20 are being supplied
by your furnace. Lets see now, you're paying for 20 instead of 80. Is
Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
In my case. by shutting down the fireplace, the furnace could keep the
house warm. That was the last season I used that fireplace. Went to a
stove and kept the house toasty with almost no oil at all from then on.
Summary comes down to I was burning wood for a heat loss through the
fireplace, i.e., efficiently getting rid of firewood.
Ok to me the long and short of it are as follows:
Do you want to be able to heat your home even without electricity? Are
you in an area that sometimes loses power? Wood or some gas stoves will
work for that.
Are you able to put wood/kindling in the firebox or would you rather
light a gas stove? (most gas stoves have peizo lighters that work with
the flick of a switch)
Is cheap or free wood available where you live (is [propane or natural]
gas available and how expensive is it?)
After considering all those questions, I opted for wood heat. I bought
an airtight wood stove that uses denser, outside air (does not draw
heated, less dense air in from the house) I have ready access to wood
and I feel it's good for me to cut and split it (kind of feels good
too, even though I have a bad back/neck it's satisfying on some level)
and when the power goes out we're still warm.
The only gas available here is propane and I estimated it takes about
1/2 gal of propane to heat my home for 2-3 hours. At around $2.00 a
gallon that would cost me about $3-4 per night or more if I used it
during the day as well. That could cost far more than wood - a half
cord ($35 here) lasts about 2-3 months. You do the math.
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