How To: Make Your Fireplace More Efficient

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Why is that that those of us who don’t have a fireplace always wish we did, and those of us who do wish we didn’t? Cold weather is quickly approaching, so those of you who do have fireplaces – embrace your fortune and follow the steps after the jump to make the fireplace more efficient to heat your home for winters to come.

When designed and installed properly fireplaces can be a great cozy source of warmth and either assist or replace your standard heating system. Mother Earth News has some great tips on making your fireplace more efficient and we’ve added a couple of our own:

Add a fireback. A fireback is simply a heavy sheet of metal (traditionally cast iron) behind the fire. In addition to protecting masonry in the back of the fireplace, a fireback reflects heat into the room (instead of all the heat going up the chimney).
Replace the damper. The damper is the metal plate that regulates airflow through the chimney. Some dampers fit snuggly when they’re new, but frequently warp within a year or two, producing a loose fit and allowing air to leak past them. Chimney cap dampers close the entire top of the chimney.
Add gasketed glass doors to the fireplace. Doors reduce the amount of air that would otherwise be siphoned up the chimney. Depending on the type of glass in the doors, some heat still radiates through the doors into the house.
Install a US EPA approved insert. A fireplace insert is basically a woodstove that fits into a masonry fireplace. Within the last 15 years, fireplace inserts have become much more energy efficient.
Install a grate heater or radiator. These units aren’t as large as complete fireplace inserts, but capture a significant amount of heat from the fire and force it into the house.
Install an inflatable plug. If you’re not using your fireplace regularly, inflatable plugs can stop warm air from going up the chimney when the fireplace is not in use.
Install an outside intake air vent in the firebox. Remove firebrick and exterior brick or stone facing, then drill a hole for a stainless steel vent that extends from outdoors right into the fireplace. This way the fireplace is using outside air rather than stealing warm indoor air for combustion .

Read the full article at Mother Earth News.

(Image: Flickr member this_could_be_my_house licensed for use under Creative Commons)