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10-21-2008, 11:15 AM #1New Guest
- Join Date
- Oct 2008
Fireplace used once in 26 years, what to inspect before using again?
Hello guys, this is my first post here. Recently, my wife and I bought a modular built in 1982. The modular shipped with a fireplace, and it was a prebuilt unit made by the now defunct Preway. We want to use the fireplace this winter to decrease our natural gas bill. I came here to find out what we need to do before we fire this thing up.
Here's what I've done so far
#1 Cleaned out the firebox, it contained an ounce of ash and a dead bat.
#2 Removed the top and bottom grilles, and vacuumed 1/4" of dust off of all surfaces sorrounding the firebox.
#3 Confirmed that the blower worked.
#4 Confirmed that the chimney was clear. The chimney appears to be a 6" metal duct with some insulation sorrounding it.
#5 Confirmed that the stone panels of the firebox are free of cracks.
#6 Installed a carbon monoxide detector in the room with the fireplace.
Here are my questions:
#1 Did I miss anything?
#2 What does the lever near the bottom grille do? The lever near the top grille obviously opens/closes the chimney, but I don't know what the bottom lever does. It sounds like the lever is moving something to the sides of the firebox, but I can't see what it's moving. Should this be opened or closed when the fire is burning?
#3 Should the metal curtains be open or closed when the glass doors are closed and the fire is burning? To me, it seems the optimum heating configuration would have the metal curtains open and the glass doors closed.
#4 What's the distinction between a fireplace and a wood burner? I hear people proclaim that fireplaces pull more heat out of a house than they provide, but these same people say that wood burners are effective. As a chemical engineer, I gotta say that this little fireplace looks pretty effective. The firebox has about a 1.5" airspace around it, which the blower circulates air around to push heat into the room. The top of the firebox is thin metal, so there should be significant heat transfer to the blown air and thus to the room. With the glass doors closed, I can't see much heat (from the living room) escaping up the chimney, and there should be good radiative heat transfer to the room. The air-return for the entire house is in the same room as the fireplace, so any heat from the fireplace should be well distributed to the rest of the house.
Thanks for your help guys.
Last edited by Corn-Picker; 10-21-2008 at 11:23 AM.
10-21-2008, 12:08 PM #2
Your fireplace is not designed or expected to heat but provide aesthetics. It will suck 400-600 cfm out of your house. Air you already paid to heat. The heat exchanger grilles are a joke and transfer very little heat into the room. They do make noise and often provide a pathway for cold air infiltration. I am not there so I cannot your system from here. I do recommend you have a pro perform a Level II inspection prior to use. The reason it was probably used only once in 26 yrs is the HVAC return in that room causing smoke spillage.
This fireplace will increase your energy consumption. Plan on replacing it with a gas direct vent when you can.
When we speak of woodburners being efficient, we're talking about EPA Phase II certified woodstoves and hybrid fireplace/ stoves---not open hearth fireplaces.