The Fireplace: Poor-man’s Blower Door

Not quite roaring, but a fire nonetheless.

Not quite roaring, but a fire nonetheless.

Today is a beautiful day to make a fire. It’s cold and blustery outside and families are together for the holiday. It’s also a great day to check for leaks.
According to the US Department of Energy:
A roaring fire can exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour to the outside, which must be replaced by cold air coming into the house from the outside.
That may be as much as 200-400 cfm (cubic feet per minute.) That’s nowhere near what most homes leak, but it is enough to help you get started, if you’ve already taken care of the largest known holes.
PLEASE NOTE: Use appropriate caution and common sense if you’re making a fire, and please don’t leave it unattended.
Get the fire going strong and, with someone else watching the fire, go from room to room looking for leaks.  Around windows, where the floor meets the baseboard, at the baseboard heaters if you have them (these are notoriously leaky and will be a future post), door frames, outlets and light switches, etc.
Since the air draw isn’t as strong as you might want or need, here are a few more tips:
-Close all interior doors and focus on one room at a time. By closing the door you’re slowing down the air seeping into that room, then into the home. That ups the air seepage into the room you’re focusing on at the moment.
-When you open the door to a room, only open it a little bit. Put your hand where the door is open and feel for air. You’re forcing all the air trying to escape from that room into the house to go through that little crack you’ve opened. If the door is on the second floor bu the fire is on the first, remember to put your hand near the bottom of the door to feel the air move.
-Take a notepad, some blue painter’s tape or a digital camera with you so you remember what needs work later.
Don’t do the work now, enjoy the fire with the family. Go back to fix the leaks another time.
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