Assuming your fireplace and chimney system are in overall good working order, the answer why your fireplace is cold and drafty is fairly straightforward. Cold air from outside is getting into the chimney and flowing down to escape from the fireplace. There are several ways you can prevent this problem or lessen its impact.
If you’re using a traditional masonry fireplace, you have what’s known as an open system. That means there’s a clear path from the top of your chimney to the opening of the firebox for air to move. Keeping a masonry fireplace from being cold and drafty during the cold months requires several steps.
Make sure your throat damper is in good shape
The throat damper, located just above the firebox and operated with a handle, is a key line of defense against cold drafts. When new, dampers create a tight seal, usually metal on metal, and block out the cold air.
Over time, dampers can become rusted and warped, thereby compromising their seal. If your damper is damaged, it can be replaced. Also: it’s easy to forget to close the damper when the fireplace isn’t in use, so make a mental note to do this.
If your throat damper is in questionable shape, or if you simply want an added layer of protection, consider having a top-sealing damper installed. These components sit at the top of the chimney and close tightly to prevent air from entering the flue.
As long as your throat damper can still open fully (necessary for efficient fires and proper drafting) it’s often more economical to install a damper up top rather than replace a faulty throat damper.
As you can see, our suggestions so far are targeting the problem of incoming air. Fireplace doors are another way to target this problem. A sturdy set of new fireplace doors can be kept closed when the fireplace isn’t being used and provide a strong barrier against infiltrating cold air. Not only do fireplace doors keep the cold air out, they also look fantastic and will add an immediate touch of elegance to any fireplace.
Install a fireback
Usually made of cast iron, a fireback is a large plate installed inside the fireplace to protect the firebox. It also absorbs heat from the fire and radiates it out into the room. A fireback doesn’t address air flow, but it definitely adds a significant warming effect and creates a more comfortable living environment.
Add a fireplace heater
Another way to increase the heating efficiency of a masonry fireplace is to add a fireplace heater. These devices take air inside the room, circulated it through the heat inside the fireplace, and send it back to the room. Because fireplace heaters work on a closed circuit system, they won’t send smoke into the room along with the warm air. These are some ways to deal with a cold and drafty fireplace. Along with improving heat efficiency, you also want to make sure every part of your fireplace is safe and working properly. They way to do this is with regularly scheduled chimney cleanings, chimney inspections and prompt repairs of damaged masonry or components.
High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is standing by to help with all your fireplace cleaning, service and maintenance needs. Call us today at (301) 519-3500.