Cleaned, but need advice for repairs

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New Member
Nov 17, 2022
Clarksville AR
Despite countless hours of research, reading codes and requirements, history, how toos, I'm still beating my head against the wall (at least it's a lovely native stone rock and block wall!). I have went well past when this should have been done and completed, it's getting down below freezing at night (23° last night) and almost nothing to heat the house, nothing sufficient at the least. So apologies for the post if it seems I'm being lazy and the information is available, I have learned a ton but just not what specifically I need to do for this particular situation....

We bought the place right about 3 years ago, used the fireplace some the first year and solely last, I wanted to do a full cleaning last year and the other half put it off, always a reason to prevent it being done, I refused this year not to and man am I glad, considering the amount of creosote removed from behind the steel plates enclosing the face around the insert, I do not believe it would have went through the winter without it catching fire... There's NO damper left although I believe I found a few crumbled pieces of what was one at some point cleaning behind it. Pictures will say more then my rambling, so I will try to upload as many as possible. The prior owners were here 10 years and we're aweful about doing anything right, i.e. cut lines to the AC part of the heat pump system and scrapped it without checking why it quit working. Hacked into it's 220v wire in the attic and put a window unit in, so I'm skeptical they ever cleaned it, just used it some years till it became unusable then did another year anyway... The man before them we knew, and wasn't one to half way do things or skimp necessary precautions, but he passed away the year we bought the place so can't exactly ask him anything regarding it's history or anything. We pulled a lot of fiberglass insulation out with the chunks of creosote the size of a cantaloupe, some had actually been melted, towards the back at the top.

I'm all ears to advise, particularly what I can get by with for this year, and come spring can complete major tasks if at all possible, I'll get pics from the top down later today, we did fabricate extension rods for the cleaning brush out of fiberglass tent poles, if anyone was curious it actually worked awesome and they are saved for future use, I did a lot of research looking at diy versions to get that done alone

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What exactly is installed? If unsure, post a picture.