A traditional fireplace creates comforting ambiance on a cold winter day, but its warmth is usually more show than substance. Because hot air rises, most of the heat produced by the fire escapes through the chimney. Additionally, the hot air creates an updraft that sucks warm air out of the room. While you can minimize heat loss by adjusting the damper and create more heat by burning the right kind of wood, the best way to turn your fireplace into an efficient room heater is to install glass fireplace doors, or better yet, a fireplace insert.
Make your Wood Fire the Most Efficient:
Burn seasoned firewood. Freshly cut or green wood burns inefficiently and produces large amounts of smoke. Seasoned wood has had an entire year, or season, to dry.
Open the damper as wide as possible to increase the amount of air to the fire. This will improve combustion and increase the amount of heat the fire produces, but it will make the wood burn faster. The damper handle is usually just above the fireplace opening, and you slide it to the right to open it.
Clean your chimney once a year. Creosote builds up inside and restricts air flow. It can also be a fire hazard.
Replace the screen in front of the fireplace with tempered glass fireplace doors, and keep the doors closed while a fire is burning. This will increase the temperature of the chimney and reduce the amount of warm air that the fire sucks from the room. To work properly, the doors should fit tightly enough against the fireplace opening for you to be able to seal the edges with a fiberglass gasket.
Install a fireplace insert. To get one that fits, measure the length and width of your fireplace with a tape measure. For maximum efficiency, install a double-wall unit with a built-in circulating fan. The warm air circulates between the two walls and the fan blows the warmth into the room. You may not need a fan if you are heating a small room.
For more information on fireplace doors or a wood burning fireplace insert, contact The Fireplace Shop and Grill Center at West Sport in Sudbury, MA.