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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Fireplaces - Cold Air infiltration

Q: My new home has a Heatilator fireplace in a two story exterior chase off of a family room with a cathedral ceiling. When it is cool outside, I feel a draft coming from the bottom vents on the fireplace. This draft occurs even when the damper to the flue is closed, the damper to fresh air kit is closed, the glass doors are closed and there is no breeze outside. The draft is significant enough on cold days to lower the temperature for several feet around the fireplace by a few degrees. The builder tells me that the chase is insulated with a fire stop at the roof line. Could the cold air be coming in from the outer flue? If so, should I have a chimney air kit to be installed to let this cold air out? What else should I check?
A:
You may have an outside air kit not sealing. Look outside the chase for a thing that looks like a dryer vent. Seal it up temporarily to see if it solves it, if so look into why the outside air damper is not sealing. Second, and more likely, the builder did not insulate the three outside walls of the chase. If he sealed the front (behind the profile), that will hold the cold inside the chase, but many builder model fireboxes are themselves not insulated. So, no insulation on back wall of chase, cold goes into chase and through the sheet metal fireplace and out the vents. This is the most likely problem. The solution is to remove the chase cap and firestop and insulate the back wall and two side walls of the chase to the firestop.

Q: I have a very drafty fireplace and would like to do a better job of sealing it from the outside when it's not in use.
A: A top sealing fireplace damper is the solution to your problem. They are inexpensive and will save you $100.00 per year on utility bills.

Q: The chase our fireplace is in is not insulated. Hence, the fireplace is a great source of cold air infiltration. What can I do?
A: Silicone between the firebox and the profile (brick, marble, etc.). The pipes cool by hot air exiting out the roof between the walls of the pipe. Cold air enters the chase from the rain cap area and falls to the bottom of the chase. The process continues in this fashion. For this reason, the chase is the same temperature as the outside or just a little warmer. The chase can be insulated, but do not put insulation in the chase in a fashion that will block the cooling of the firebox.

 

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