New member... old house with a couple of old fireplaces

mkarch Posted By mkarch, Jan 4, 2013 at 12:58 AM

  1. mkarch

    New Member 2.

    Jan 4, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Here's the background - this summer we bought a mid century house with 2 regular masonry fireplaces common from the era.

    It's a fixer, so we're prioritizing projects. The long term plan is to put a gas insert in the living room, and a wood insert in the family room for backup heating. The central heat is oil, which we don't want to keep for too long. Plan on that is to replace with a heat pump either this summer or next.

    I like burning wood, don't mind the cut/spilt/stack, it's good exercise. But the old fireplaces are so inefficient it seems like I'm spending too much time/money on the fire for the heat it's putting out.

    My question is - is there an easy way to (slightly) improve the efficiency of these old fireplaces in the short term, or am I better off plugging the chimney until we get a good insert?

    Living and family room are the same style, except family room vents to the left chimney.

  2. Jags

    Moderate Moderator 2.
    Staff Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    Northern IL
    Fireplaces are notoriously inefficient. Not much you can do that will improve that. Lets face it, they really haven't changed much in hundreds of years.
    Prioritizing - ahh yes....the great head scratcher. Only you will know best...but if long term is to get off oil, I would start by getting your heat square up. An insert (personally I prefer free standing stoves), with an insulated block off plate would start to look pretty important to me.

    And welcome to the forum

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