How do I fix my fireplace?
November 19, 2008 2:42 PM   Subscribe

When I burn a fire in my fireplace in the evenings I have to leave the damper open all night so the house won't get smoky. This causes all the heat in the house to get sucked up the chimney. I suppose I could extinguish the fire before going to bed, but I was hoping that I might be able to close the front off somehow. Does anyone know of a solid fireplace screen made for this purpose?
posted by haikuku to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
You might Google "fireplace insert." They help you enjoy a fire while also warming your house.
posted by PatoPata at 3:07 PM on November 19, 2008

Or "glass fireplace doors" should help as well.
posted by procrastination at 3:08 PM on November 19, 2008

We have a wood stove with a glass front, and no smoke leaves as long as the door is closed.
posted by languagehat at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2008

If you cut off all air entering the fireplace, your fire will smolder and deposit creosote in your chimney, putting you at greater risk for a chimney fire in the future. Your fireplace is designed to suck air in and send it out through the chimney. If you want to heat with wood you should get a wood stove.
posted by yohko at 3:52 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ditto what yohko said.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:17 PM on November 19, 2008

there is no solution to your problem short of purchasing a fireplace insert. You'll find this to be a cost saving feature.

Any time you build a fire in a fireplace without an insert, you are sucking money.
posted by HuronBob at 7:09 PM on November 19, 2008

I don't have a fireplace, but the solution to this that I read about was to crack a window in the room with the fireplace, and then close all the doors to that room.

No idea if it works, but might be worth a shot.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:54 PM on November 19, 2008

Yes you need an insert. The amount of air that needs to go up the chimney to avoid smoking depends on the design of the throat, which you can only really change by rebuilding the fireplace. An insert is probably less expensive. You may find a used one on craigslist (or maybe not at this time of year.) Inserts give a very comfortable heat, and some come with built-in fans to distribute the hot air.

It is possible to put a steel sheet across the entire outside of the fireplace, with a hole (smaller than the chimney) to let air in. That cuts the heat loss up the chimney but also cuts most of the heat going into the room. Glass doors will have the same effect, though you get more radiant heat through the glass of course. And if the hole for the air is too small, as yohko says, you'll gum up the chimney and maybe have a very exciting chimney fire. (Chimney fires are rather like rocket engines, noisy fun but scary dangerous -- best avoided, but if one happens you need a way to block the entire fireplace to stop any air getting in.)
posted by anadem at 8:22 PM on November 19, 2008

Can you at least close the doors from the rest of the house to the room with the fireplace? At least that way all the warm house air won't be sucked out.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:32 PM on November 19, 2008

Well I prefer a fireplace that does not have an insert, like the one mentioned by the OP. and it sounds like the OP is not looking to heat the house with the fire, but doesn't want it to pull all the existing heat out of the house over the night by leaving the flue open all night.

I haven't heard of a solid fireplace screen, but I am sure one could be made quite easily. There are plenty of ironworks companies around that could easily make one for you to sit in front of your fireplace, just make sure they put some closing air vents in the face of it so you can control the amount of air let into the fireplace. The benefit of this is that you can have it custom designed anyway you'd like to match your home.

Good luck.
posted by wile e at 12:41 AM on November 20, 2008

Something like this could work but I would again suggest having a welder or ironworker cut a few vents in it so you can control the air going into the fireplace.
posted by wile e at 12:46 AM on November 20, 2008

If you remove all the air, the fire should go out pretty quickly, reducing creosote troubles. I've found the people at the forums to be very helpful.
posted by theora55 at 2:35 PM on November 20, 2008

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