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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Fireplaces - Outside air

Q: I recently bought a house with a masonry fireplace. On the floor of the fireplace is an ash dump. Can it also be used as an air vent to improve the fireplace draft?
A: Yes it can be used for that purpose. A couple of things to remember though. Install a mesh screen over the clean out door (the one on the outside of the house). Otherwise critters have an easy access into your home. Close both doors when fireplace is not in use to keep the cold air outside. Also you can adjust the flap on the ash dump (the door in the bottom of the firebox) to regulate the amount of air you let in.

Q: I have a close to air tight house, Do I need air for the fireplace? I have glass doors on the fireplace now. What do I need to do to make maximum use of heat out of a fire?
A: Newer homes are built with extreme energy conservation in mind. They put extra insulation in the attic and walls, use double or triple pane windows, etc. For this reason the "newer" houses don't breathe that well. A fireplace takes air out of the house and sends it the outside along with the bi-products of combustion (smoke). If the house does not have sufficient air leaks, the fireplace would smoke back into the room. Using "outside air" kits allows the fireplace to use air from the outside rather than the air you have already heated. Now, as far as what you can do. You already have a glass door. It lowers the amount of air needed. Adding an outside air kit to the fireplace will make the rest of the house warmer. The fireplace is going to use air from the easiest source. It is easier to get the air from the outside air kit than to suck it from around windows and doors. The sucking from windows and doors is what makes the other side of the room (away from the fireplace) colder than other areas of the house.

Q: Where can I purchase an outside air kit?
A:  If a prefab fireplace, you will need to obtain one from the manufacturer.  If you have a masonry fireplace, most brick yards that sell firebrick and flue liners carry them.  Many Certified Chimney Sweeps offer them including installation.

 

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