Do wood inserts suck all the heat out of the house like old fireplaces do?

Old 11-10-14, 08:25 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Do wood inserts suck all the heat out of the house like old fireplaces do?

considering getting a wood insert to place in a old traditional fireplace. I live in a ranch style house that also has a basement. There is a fireplace upstairs and one in the basement. The chimney is located in the middle of the house. I have only used the upstairs fireplace a few times in the 20+ years we have lived there only because my daughter had asthma groing up. My wife doesn't like using the fireplaces due to the smell of smoke that lingers. Thinking about putting a wood burning stove on the main floor. My understanding of old fireplaces is they suck the heat out of the rest of the house as all the heated air goes right up the chimney. With inserts I see that they get the combustion air from the house air. So this means that an insert/like an old fireplace is losing heated air right up the chimney. My question is it much lower that the heat loss for a traditional old fireplace and how much less. My intent for getting an insert is to just have a nice fire once in a while on the weekends at night during the winter. We heat our house with oil fire boiler trankless system. There is a separate zone on the main floor with baseboards and a separate one in the partially finished basement with baseboards. We never heat the basement but are looking into doing a complete refinishing of the basement which as I already mentioned has a separate baseboard zone plus another foreplace.
Old 11-10-14, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: MI
Posts: 2,634
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
An insert wastes way less conditioned air. With an insert you control the burn rate using the rather small air dampers. On a fireplace you're stuck with WFO with the chimney effect of the flue sucking as much CFM as possible out of your house. PLUS the cast iron mass of the insert is a much better radiant surface to heat the air around it. PLUS the fan on an insert draws that heat away from the fire box and pushes it out into the room.
= an insert is a much more efficient heater than an open fireplace.

Additionally I barely notice any smoke smell from my insert, but on my open fireplace it's far more objectionable and I sometimes can see a wisp of smoke escaping the opening. Window open or not.
Old 11-10-14, 09:53 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 10,524
Received 37 Votes on 34 Posts
Wood burning has progressed considerably since those open fireplaces were installed. You will probably need to add a chimney liner for the new insert and hopefully each fireplace has its own flue and neither share a flue with the oil burner. If they are sharing one flue that may not work.

If you can find a sealed combustion insert that uses outside air for combustion, even better.


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title: