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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Long beach, ca
    Posts
    89

    Confused closing off an unused fireplace-how

    Hi,
    I have a fireplace I am not using, the damper is closed unless I'm letting out a bird. In 35 years I have never had a fire in it.
    Birds yes, fire no. Bird fit thru the top--so much for a spark arrester.

    I ran the HVAC-calc program and 20% of my heating bill is used to send hot air up the flue.
    Is there an easy way to seal this off so that it can easily be unsealed later, like when I hear a bird in it? It is wood and stucco with a tin can inside. I have thought of putting a balloon up there.
    gailquilter

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire England
    Posts
    405
    How about if you rip the fire suround out and brick up the opening. You should put a small vent in there so the chimney throat can breath, and put a bird guard over the chimney pot. If the chimney breast is on the outside wall you could put the vent on the outside wall.
    Martyn

    50 & 60 hz but 100's worse

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    392
    They make a top mounted damper that does a pretty good job of sealing the air AND birds out. It's cable operated too.
    Common sense is NOT common !!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Long beach, ca
    Posts
    89

    Talking Great contraption, I'll look into it.

    Quote Originally Posted by logdoc_rob View Post
    They make a top mounted damper that does a pretty good job of sealing the air AND birds out. It's cable operated too.
    Sounds like that would be a good one, I'll look into it.

    The low down damper is closed.
    I was thinking more like a board painted black with insulation or something? Something I could remove quickly. Sometimes rain comes down too, in a very bad storm.

    Also--I'll be getting a whole house exhaust fan and don't want to suck the birds down the chimney.

    what is the thing called? "top mounted damper?"
    gailquilter
    Last edited by gailquilter; 02-22-2010 at 05:58 PM. Reason: added fan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Long beach, ca
    Posts
    89
    Quote Originally Posted by chilliwilly View Post
    How about if you rip the fire suround out and brick up the opening. You should put a small vent in there so the chimney throat can breath, and put a bird guard over the chimney pot. If the chimney breast is on the outside wall you could put the vent on the outside wall.
    Also a good idea, but..
    Fireplace looks nice, would like to keep it. From what I have learned even with a fire in it the result would be cooling instead of heating. I have experienced a fireplace which heated the entire house, old school, built by an engineer who came here from Russia(brrrrrr) in the 20's. It sent hot air thru radiators on the front.
    It is on the outside wall, would make a nice closet outside. Ah yes, I have been learning about venting, and if you don't vent, insulate.. or you get condensation and dryrot.

    Been studying the building code.
    gailquilter

    gailquilter

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    lock top dampers: http://www.homesaver.com/locktop_fireplace_damper.aspx

    The are only for masonry fireplaces though, sounds like you might have a metal prefab since you called it a "tin can".

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    392
    Oooops, I missed the "tin can" part. I shouldn't post before 8am !!
    Common sense is NOT common !!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Long beach, ca
    Posts
    89

    yup, tin can construction.

    Thank you all for replying. Does a board sound good or bad? How would I attach it?

    Quote Originally Posted by logdoc_rob View Post
    They make a top mounted damper that does a pretty good job of sealing the air AND birds out. It's cable operated too.
    On the site I found they have clay extensions, really cute I LIKE them.

    Yes tin can I may have seen it when I was in the attic.

    More ideas?

    The first windy day a month after I got the place, the chimney cap blew off. Not a nail hole in it. Cheap construction. Cheap but not bad, except for a couple problems. 'Evaporative roof' the foreman said. baloney I thought. Too polite to say it. I say more in my old age.

    Always respected and liked really feisty, really old women.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Long beach, ca
    Posts
    89

    Wink any info is helpful to me, thanks for clarification

    Quote Originally Posted by logdoc_rob View Post
    Oooops, I missed the "tin can" part. I shouldn't post before 8am !!

    We are just chatting don't let anyone make you feel

    This is supposed to be fun.


    isn't it?
    gail

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
    Posts
    6,192

    Cool hire a pro

    Regardless if you've ever used it or not, it should have a professional Level II inspection to guide you in your approach to this Fp. If it is a factory built fireplace, you could get into several issues should you modify it. For instance, if you remove the termination cap and install a custom fabricated cover to seal out the rain and critters while reducing heat loss, it could result in condensation rotting out the outer wall of the chimney and top of
    Fp. I've seen this happen. If someone should try to build a fire, it could smoke out the house and possibly result in an unfriendly fire. You would need to place a warning tag inside at the damper handle. Now, let's suppose you sell this house in 5 years and list it with a "working fireplace". Did you throw away that termination cap? If so, you would be reponsible for replacing it with an OEM one. If they are not available from the mfr. then you could be responsible for providing and entirely new fireplace from top to bottom.

    Instead of internet speculation, you really need a pro to get in there and advise you.

    I would be curious to know how or why birds were getting into the chimney and how well does your damper fit. Be advised that heat loss is only when the damper is open and a draft in the chimney. Yes, you can lose ~400-600 cfm up the stack so yes, fireplaces are very inefficent. Closed the leakage is minimal in many cases. Metallic throat dampers on masonry fireplaces are notorious leakers though.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Long beach, ca
    Posts
    89

    If no heat loss I don't need to do anything

    Quote Originally Posted by hearthman View Post
    Be advised that heat loss is only when the damper is open and a draft in the chimney. . Closed the leakage is minimal in many cases.
    Thanks, so I will wait until I have heat again then put a thermometer in there to see if cold is coming down, and see if something with smoke goes up.

    I don't want to modify it I just want to plug it up. If a bird I want to unplug in a couple minutes to get her out. Last little bird was very frightened and took a lot of coaxing to get to go out the door.
    I'd remove the plug to sell.
    gail

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Long beach, ca
    Posts
    89
    I saw on Ask This Old House today a balloon to put up the chimney. Well..so my original idea wasn't so bad.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    392
    I do not mean to sound harsh, but just keep in mind that some of the hosts on "This Old House" and other DIY type programs usually are not fireplace professionals, most that post in this forum are pros. I've seen the DIY weekend shows do things that scare the Hell out of me.
    Common sense is NOT common !!!

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