Losing more heat than gaining from fireplace?
I have a 1958-60 house with an original wood burning masonry fireplace. I have used it mostly for fun/ambiance because I liked it and the cozy fire in the winters, until last fall. We had a storm in Oct. that left us with cold, snow and no power for days. During that time, the only heat I had was the fireplace. It was a full time job, lol, but by keeping a roaring fire going all evening until I went to sleep, I could get the temp in the open kitchen/livingroom area to about 73-74 degrees. Then I went to sleep, but had to keep the flu open and I would wake up to temps of 48 degrees in the house. I did not have glass doors and of coarse the open flu was probably a big problem with heat loss after the fire went out.
I had found in previous years that keeping a good fire going all evening would heat the rooms and keep them cozy warm. A small fire or one for just a couple of hours did nothing.
Is is possible to supplement heat with a wood fire in a fireplace by keeping it going all afternoon/evening instead of upping the thermostat for the entire floor when I home for the day? I have heard and read of coarse that fireplaces increase heating costs, send warm air out of the house, etc. But is there a point if it is kept going long enough that the radiant heat is greater than the heat loss?
I can certainly understand why a small or decorative fire for a couple of hours and an open flu would result in more heat loss than gain. But what about longer, hotter fires? It SEEMS to add heat not take away, but with the cost of oil this winter, I would like to understand it better, and when I might be breaking even or supplementing the heat and when I am just losing it.
I have since added glass doors so I can close them when the fire starts to die down and decrease heat loss during that time through the flu. The doors are not supposed to be closed during a fire, though, according to the instructions.
Would an iron fireback significantly increase the heat given off? I see them priced at around 300.00 to start.
After heating the two rooms with the fireplace for the first time ever last fall, it became obvious that at some point there clearly IS heat gain rather than loss with a wood burning fireplace. The back of the fireplace and chimney are in the attached garage, and there also does seem to be some increase in temp in the garage so I don't know if that helps any, maybe providing a little bit warmer insulating area before the really cold outside air.
If I am really wasting heat every time I use it, I am going to have to seriously cut down using it with the current price of oil this winter. That would be a shame because it is one of the few pleasures of winter for me, lol. But if I can break even or supplement the heat from the furnace a little, I certainly justify using it more, especially since I already have the wood.