Help me close my fireplace vents
December 18, 2009 1:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I close my fireplace vents?

There is a really cold draft coming in through our fireplace even though the flue and the glass doors are closed. Some of the draft is coming in around the outside edges of the glass doors (which I assume I can't do anything about) but there is also a lot of cold air coming through the vents above and below the glass doors. There is a little wheel at the bottom of the door that unscrews a bit and looks like it's supposed to move left and right but it feels like a spring inside is keeping it from moving to the left (it's all the way to right at the moment).

I found this online but cannot seem to locate any security tabs anywhere. My landlord isn't sure how it works.

There's a sticker on it that says Sears and Roebuck model 114 but unfortunately I haven't been able to find any directions online.

Any suggestions?
posted by gfrobe to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Growing up we had an oldschool brick chimney fireplace, my dad would shove a wad of fiberglass insulation right up into the chimney to block the draft.
posted by idiopath at 1:53 PM on December 18, 2009

If you have outside air coming in through your fireplace, there must be some way for cold air to get into your fireplace. So, either the flue is not actually closed or seals poorly (can you get your head in there to have a look or at least get a camera in to take a picture?) or you have an outside combustion air supply (which would be unlikely for an old fireplace in my area, but maybe they do things differently in the UK). In other words, find out how the cold air is getting into the fireplace, not how the cold air is getting from the fireplace into the room.
posted by ssg at 2:34 PM on December 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. I've tried to track down the source of the cold air in the fireplace but haven't had much luck. The flue is a heavy metal panel and looks to me like it's closing tightly The entire inside of the fireplace is metal and I've read that metal fireplaces tend to get very cold and that cold can then enter a room so thought that was perhaps my problem.

ssg, I'll look up outside combustion air supply as I'm not familiar with that. I'm actually in the US now and not the UK.

Would still like to close this vent though if possible..
posted by gfrobe at 2:51 PM on December 18, 2009

I'll be interested to see what ideas others have about this, since we have precisely the same problem. Here's what we've done about it:

We purchased something like these and fashioned them into a cover for the vents. It isn't pretty and it isn't elegant, but it at least blocks all the cold air that previously came through the vents.
posted by DrGail at 3:14 PM on December 18, 2009

My fireplace has a lever on the left side to control the vent. This is a completely separate piece from the flue.

Take a look at the outside of your chimney. Mine has a small vent at the level of the fireplace which resembles a clothes dryer exhaust vent. If you cannot find a lever inside, maybe you can plug the vent from the outside.
posted by ijoshua at 3:20 PM on December 18, 2009

Response by poster: Take a look at the outside of your chimney. Mine has a small vent at the level of the fireplace which resembles a clothes dryer exhaust vent. If you cannot find a lever inside, maybe you can plug the vent from the outside.

I'll look into this one. We're living in a townhouse and all of the properties are attached but will see if I can find a vent outside. However, we're actually using the fireplace every few days so going outside to open and close a vent is probably not ideal.

DrGrail, we've actually just purchased some vent covers and am awaiting delivery. Will let you know how that works out if you like.

Still open to any ideas on getting the actual vents closed :)
posted by gfrobe at 3:26 PM on December 18, 2009

If you aren't 100% certain that the flue is sealing closed, you can always take something that makes some smoke (a stick of incense is good) and hold it near to check for air leaks.

Also, you can do something about the doors not sealing properly, which is to replace the gasket (the thing that looks sort of like rope that the edges of the door should close tightly against).
posted by ssg at 4:16 PM on December 18, 2009

I installed a "Battic Door Energy Conservation Products Large Fireplace Plug " this year. It's basically a balloon which you insert in the flue. Once inserted, you inflate the balloon to expand against the sides of the chimney and stop the air flow. For us it dramatically reduced the amount of cold air coming from the fireplace.

You need to remove it when you have a fire, but it's not that difficult. It took a little fooling around to get it inserted right the first time, but after that no problems.

Here's a link:
posted by NoDef at 6:04 AM on December 19, 2009

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