The house we bought has a fireplace and this will be our first winter where
we can actually make use of it.
As we've never had a fireplace before I want to make sure I use it
I've checked out several sights on the net about how to build fires and how
to prime the flue, etc.
One question I have is on the use (or not) of fireplace doors. My fireplace
has two glass doors (no screens). From what I can tell the most common
recommendation is to leave any doors open while the fire is burning.
Thoughts on this?
When should/could the doors be closed?
Do you think it would be a good idea to obtain a screen for the from of the
I have a fireplace with glass doors. You will need a screen sparks will exit
the firebox. I burn with the doors open. If I am leaving it unattended (i.e.
going to bed) I close the doors. This not only for safety but to save house
heat from going up the chimney till I get up in the morning and close the
For efficiency the doors should be closed. People are fooled because close to
the fire it is warmer with the doors open, but the rest of the house is being
cooled by all of the heat being pulled up the chimney.
If you think about it the fireplace already has a flu door that can be closed
when the fireplace is not being used so what practical purpose do glass doors
serve? Are they merely an alternative to the flu door? If not, then what
possible purpose would they have if the only time they are closed is when the
fire is not burning?
I have glass doors that have brass decorative openings running across
the top and bottom, with metal louvers you can pull open and closed.
The idea is to keep the doors closed, but to open one or both screens
to control the amount of room air that enters the firebox. You leave
the actual fireplace chimney damper open while using the fireplace.
Mostly I keep the two screens nearly closed and the damper halfway
open. Makes a nice whistling noise. This fireplace, built in 1921, has
no outside air vent -- ie., no source of outside air other than what
it gets from the inside the house.
I installed the doors when I realized that the draft from the
fireplace was so strong that it sucked all the heated air from the
entire house, all three stories worth, and blasted it up the chimney.
Indeed, the draft is so intense that I sometimes wondered if it would
shoot small tables, footstools, and cats up the chimney.
Not wishing to attempt to heat the neighborhood, I found the doors to
be a nice, cost-effective investment. It doesn't make the fireplace an
effective heating device, but it does keep more of the PSE&G
bought-and-paid-for heat inside the house. The fire is nice to look
My fireplace doors have an air-intake panel along the bottom, with a
sliding baffle to let you adjust the amount of air. I burn the fire
with the glass doors closed and in this way I lose less heat up the
chimney as the fire dies down and we go to sleep.
Normally it is more efficient heating to use the doors closed. The only
issue is air supply to the fire. Some applications will have an outside air
supply within the fireplace, more require at least some room air. Many
doors have adjustable air vents.
Using room air will cause cold air from outside to get into the house
somewhere cooling that part of the house.
Limiting the air to the fire will slow it down and the wood will last
longer. It also may cause it to create more deposits on the chimney and
that can be dangerous.
I too have always heard it is more efficient heating with the doors closed.
I do think this is true after the fire burns down low, or out, as you don't
want the heat left in the room to escape up the flue. But, just how is it
more efficient heating with the doors closed, when the fire is going strong
Just where does the heat come from , if the doors are closed ? My question
assumes there is no ventilator.
The heat moves (radiates) through the glass. Again at close range not nearly as
much as with the doors open, but you avoid the draft that is pulling all of the
warm air from your house and sending it up the chimney.
Fire heats the room via radiant heat, through the glass. The hot air from
the fire is going up the stack. Fireplace fires are mainly psychological
anyway. They are a lousy way to heat a house, and will suck the heated air
from the house right up the chimney, if you let them, even while fire is
burning. If you want a fireplace to be a backup heatsource, you need to
forget about looking at the pretty flames, and get good tight glass doors
with an outside air source and a heat exchanger that blows room air through
a sealed pipe built into the firebox, or better yet, an insert or woodstove
coversion kit. There was a reason people invented furnaces.
Advice from Rick, Carol, and Meehan is right on.
Keep those doors closed, or what little warm air is in the house will
quickly be sucked out.
Re a screen, it is useful when first starting the fire, where you want max.
air flow, but no live coals on the rug.....
Once well started,. pull the screen back out of the way, and close the glass
doors. If the screen is left in place while the doors are shut, you get
more smoke/tar deposits left on windows, and end up blocking a lot of useful
radiation into the room.
Another really good source for info on fires and home heating is newsgroup
alt.energy.homepower. It is well attended by many who have expertise in home
heating with wood stoves and fireplaces.
It is ridiculous to think of a fire place as an efficient heat source. It is
for aesthetics. I like to look at and hear my fire so I leave the doors
open. If I wanted to look at one though the glass I could get one of those
Yule log tapes for the VCR. If I wanted to heat with wood I would get a
Like I stated in an earlier post when I am ready to go to bed, and the fire
is still burning, I can just close the doors. Since I can't close the damper
with the fire still burning this will prevent my house air from going up the
chimney when the fire goes out. Then in the morning I can shut the damper.
-> Hello.-> The house we bought has a fireplace and this will be our first winter where-> we can actually make use of it.-> As we've never had a fireplace before I want to make sure I use it-> correctly.-> I've checked out several sights on the net about how to build fires and how-> to prime the flue, etc.-> -> One question I have is on the use (or not) of fireplace doors. My fireplace-> has two glass doors (no screens). From what I can tell the most common-> recommendation is to leave any doors open while the fire is burning.-> -> Thoughts on this?-> When should/could the doors be closed?-> Do you think it would be a good idea to obtain a screen for the from of the-> fireplace?
Just adding to what has already been said:
Check your fireplace to see if it has a fan. Mine has a little push-button
switch in the lower right hand corner of the fireplace. The fan sucks in
cool air at the bottom of the fireplace and blows out warm air from the top.
Yours may not have a fan, but I thought you'd want to check.
I find my fireplace works most efficiently when I leave the doors open while
the fire is roaring. Once the fire dies down and you basically have just
hot coals left, then close the doors and the coals will last longer and
thereby heat longer. By all means get a screen!!! Wood has a tendency to
pop and throw sparks. If you have carpet or there is anything nearby that
is flammable you are asking for trouble if you don't have a screen. It only
takes one of those sparks to burn that new house down.
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