Published on December 24th, 2013 | by Henri


Make-up air for a fireplace

Q.    I read your column and blog regularly and appreciate your knowledge of many issues. I have a two-story home built in the sixties with an exterior wall fireplace. It has a large flue and 28″ X 28″ firebox opening. I had to put a seven inch metal plate across the top to prevent smoke from rolling into the room. It did have doors, but they were so cheap that I tore them off one day.

My wife does not like inserts and we enjoy the fires, but not how cold the rest of the house gets. My solution is to drill a 2.5″ hole through the inner and outer brick walls and insert a metal pipe with blower on the outside to keep the noise down to accomplish two things. It would create positive pressure into the house and, by running it through a tubular wood holder, push warm air into the house.

Am I crazy for attempting this?  I realize that I should just put better doors on, but the outside air positive pressurization seems very attractive. I can’t imagine it would weaken the chimney to any extent, and I would build a box around the blower so no animals could enter.

A.    I am not clear how you will be able to install a fan in a 2-1/2-inch pipe and a tubular wood holder (and how this will push warm air into the house). The concept of bringing in outside make-up air is sound. In fact, most masons provide outside make-up air for fireplaces nowadays. Below is a photo of a fairly typical vent in a fireplace. Also, at the top of this post is a picture of a vent installed under a wood-burning stove. But I suggest that you have a competent mason look the situation over and provide you with an estimate on doing the work. A professional job done with available systems will add much to the sale appeal of the house whereas a so-so D-I-Y job may do the opposite.Fireplace air vent

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