Author Topic: How do we make a fireplace efficient?  (Read 2291 times)

PawPrint53

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
How do we make a fireplace efficient?
« on: July 30, 2015, 07:17:39 PM »
We are moving into our rental home soon and I'm wondering if it's possible to make a natural gas fireplace into an efficient heating source. At the very least, I'd like to be able to use it without feeling like I'm burning up dollar bills. I'm actually not sure how it works since I've never lived in the house. It does have a remote starter so maybe it's not the kind where the pilot light is on all the time?? What kind of professional would handle this kind of thing? We don't want to screw around with natural gas. Thank you.

The_path_less_taken

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 654
Re: How do we make a fireplace efficient?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2015, 06:11:51 AM »
Take it out and replace it with a gas start, air tight wood burning stove. Easiest wood burner, very efficient, lots of models.

A fireplace is a visual entertainment, not an efficient heat source. Unless you recall old time books talking about "tending the hearth fires"...because that's what is required: 24/7 nonstop tending.

And nonstop fuel.

Truly not worth it unless you're in a semi-tropical zone and just want to 'chase the chill' for a bit: if there's winter snow out your window....forget it.

Capsu78

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 704
  • Location: Chicagoland
Re: How do we make a fireplace efficient?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2015, 07:49:19 AM »
Just as a data point, IIRC, Frank Lloyd Wright built over 1700 fireplaces and never built the same one twice.  Some were relatively efficient but many were complete messes when it came to actually burning. 
There are many alternatives that claim to make for more efficiency short of a wood burning stove, but I find many of them to be crap...however a wood burning stove is not the same as watching a fire burn down to ashes on a cold winter night either, and that is what the DW wants to see.

Gone Fishing

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2754
  • So Close went fishing on April 1, 2016
    • Journal
Re: How do we make a fireplace efficient?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2015, 08:33:51 AM »
Is it unvented ?  If so, it is already 99%+ efficient*.  If it is a vented factory fireplace, try to look up similar models and find their efficiency ratings, they are probably still efficient enough to be worthwhile. Units with fans can improve efficiency as well.  If they are just gas logs thrown in an existing woodburning fireplace turning them on could actually be worse than leaving them off.  Replacing them with a more efficient unit would probably not be worthwhile unless you plan on renting for a very long time.

*There is a lot of debate around non-vented gas heaters as the combustion products end up in the living space.  In theory, the only combustion products should be H20 (which can cause moisture problems) and CO2.  In reality, natural gas has traces of other compounds that end up in the air as well, some people claim to be sensitive to these compounds.  Unvented models should be equipped with a low O2 sensor that turns them off if they start to deplete the oxygen (which would eventually sufficate you).  There is also a higher possibility of the production and build up of CO in a malfunctioning unit which is fatally poisonous in many cases, unlikely though, if all the proper safeties are in place. Many codes now prohibit un-vented gas logs/heaters for these reasons, but many people still use them without any issues.  If you have one and decide to use it, at least make sure you have a working CO alarm, watch for moisture problems, and do not run it while sleeping.   

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3875
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: How do we make a fireplace efficient?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2015, 09:42:24 AM »
If it's got a chimney/roof vent, there's really not a way to make them very good at heat.  Definitely nowhere near what a modern condensing furnace can do.

We're planning to have something along those lines in our house when we get it built because my wife likes roasting in front of a hot fireplace on a cold day. :)  And that's just fine with me.

PawPrint53

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
Re: How do we make a fireplace efficient?
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2015, 07:44:57 PM »
Thanks so much!