Fireplaces are still the focal point in many living rooms
Most houses built in the UK have at least one chimney. Fireplaces are still great focal points in our houses. Many people have spent time in restoring the fireplace in their lounge or dining room to add the wow factor to their home.
It was only relatively recently that chimneys were no longer necessary. Once central heating came along chimney’s became used and redundant. Even gas fires became flueless and it’s only even more recently that log burners and wood stoves became fashionable. This meant that some chimneys have found a new use.
When chimneys were in everyday use as the heat source, their design was perfectly fitting for the homes they were in. Open fires in grates created a huge amount of heat which radiates around the room and heats up all the surfaces. So having a lot of air move through the room as its drawn up into the fire is not a problem.
When many people changed their open fires to gas fires, these again needed plentiful amounts of air to keep the room well ventilated. Natural gas can have the added risk of allowing carbon monoxide to build up, so good ventilation is vitally important.
Wood Burning Stoves
Wood burning stoves or log burners are often sealed to the room, but still require some air to help with combustion. This normally comes from vents to outside, either through a wall or through the floor.
Once a fire place is stopped being used it can become a major problem when considering heat loss and ventilation. A lot of air will move up the chimney, wasting heat and creating strong drafts. Closing it up can become a priority.
But, closing it up in the wrong way can cause problems with condensation and damp.
A simple way of closing a chimney is to use a chimney balloon. This is placed in the flue, just out of sight.A chimney balloon helps to reduce the heat lost through drafts going up the chimney.
How to deal with a Chimney when planning a retrofit
If you’re having roof works done, it may be prudent to take the chimney down to roof level. If you want more space you could take it all the way down to ground level. Although you will lose the fire place and its focal point.
Chimneys can become a major head ache if not dealt with properly when you plan your retrofit. If you want to keep the fireplace, but reduce the drafts going up it there are things you can do. It is possible to reduce risk of condensation whilst also stopping heat lost though uncontrolled ventilation.
It is best to get professional advice when considering closing a chimney.