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Help with an old fireplace

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by OldStoneHouse, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. OldStoneHouse

    OldStoneHouse Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2010
    Messages:
    85
    Loc:
    Eastern Ontario
    Our house is about 160 years old and we have a fireplace in our front room. About a hundred years ago (my guess) the original fireplace was modified and an insert was installed.

    I had one of the local chimney sweeps come out and look at it and he said we were fine to use it occasionally. He pulled it out and told me how to clean out the debris that was behind the insert which I did. The same person checked the chimney from the roof earlier and it had not been used since.

    The issue we have is that it doesn't draw very well. I belief that the chimney is clean. I noticed this weekend though that if the cast iron cover is on while a fire is burning, it draws much better. If the cover is off, it is a very poor fire. There is an adjustable grate that I have open as well as a door that says "open when lighting fire." If I close the door then smoke comes back into the room. I can get more pictures of the inside of the insert tonight if that would help.

    Thanks for your comments!

    Brad

    Attached Files:

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
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    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Looks like the old inserted burner is almost as old as the fireplace. I'm wondering if this possibly was set up for coal burning? Seeing the inside and the grate would be helpful.

    To answer your question, this may be a situation where the wood being burned is not fully seasoned. You might try a modest fire with some cut off carpentry scraps. If that burns much better and without the smoking, then the wood supply is suspect.
  3. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    3,330
    Loc:
    Holliston, MA USA
    Begreen caught it - that is a coal basket in the fireplace. The flue may not be large enough to handle the greater exhaust volume of a wood fire and coal flues typically did not have the smoke shelf that helps with drafting a wood fire.

    Dry wood, cut up into small peices that fit the basket but even so you might not have good results.
  4. Billybonfire

    Billybonfire Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2012
    Messages:
    273
    Loc:
    Lancashire NW England.
    Hi Brad,
    I think begreen may be right in that this style of fireplace is mostly used for burning coal, have one similar in my bedroom.
    Usually when burning wood in an open fireplace they use a firebasket similar to this -
    valencia-fire-basket-no-back.jpg

    Hope this helps.

    Billy.
  5. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    Wow... I'm impressed. Have I mentioned recently how amazing hearth.com is?
    Billybonfire likes this.
  6. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    2,241
    Loc:
    Soutwest VA
    I think you need a fireplace grate and your wood is not dry enough.
  7. Billybonfire

    Billybonfire Feeling the Heat

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    Jul 6, 2012
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    Loc:
    Lancashire NW England.
    I agree with that Joful, a fantastic pool of knowledge, best site in the world for woodburners, and believe me I have looked.
  8. OldStoneHouse

    OldStoneHouse Member

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    Jan 8, 2010
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    Loc:
    Eastern Ontario
    Thanks - I'll take some more pictures of the inside tonight. The wood is quite dry, it's been split for two summers - covered as well.
  9. OldStoneHouse

    OldStoneHouse Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2010
    Messages:
    85
    Loc:
    Eastern Ontario
    Here are the other pictures, they aren't the best but the lighting is difficult at this time of year.

    Attached Files:

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