Can an Open Fireplace Behave Itself in a Tight House?

Can an open fireplace behave itself in a tight house? Imagine you want to change your living environment from a big house to a small one powered by balloons in Up movie. Your concern is whether your open fireplace can still function well in such a tight space. The answer is yes if you can coordinate the fireplace suitable with your new environment by choosing the right design and arrangement.

The fit of an open fireplace between house style and fireplace design

Though you own a tight house, the house style can also help the fireplace function well in a small space. If you are living in a traditional house with a tightly-constructed design, you tend to buy a traditional open fireplace to fit with style. In this case, the fireplace can function in the well-insulated and cozy environment.

Let's consider house style and fireplace design

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Alternatively, if you are living in a modern apartment, an open fireplace is not the best option for you. This is because of a clash of technology where there is not enough air supply for an open fireplace. In reality, a fireplace that demands more air for normal operation is more likely to have smoke spillage and backdrafting.

In this case, the following options can help you to ensure the effective function of an open fireplace.

A chimney top fan or a make-up air system

A normal open fireplace consumes between 200 and 600 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of room air.

Sometimes, it consumes even more with a big fireplace and big fire. In this case, a tight house might fail to withstand a 200 cfm flow. This might cause problems in the air ventilation of the room.

Therefore, the fireplace needs additional functions. For example a chimney top fan or a make-up air system to solve this problem.

Chimney top fan

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This option can cost you a significant amount of money.

However, it can help to depressurize the house by improving air flow and reducing smoke spillage from the fireplace.

A similar system called the make-up air fan can have the same function with the design of a high-volume, fan-forces, pre-heated outdoor make-up air system.

The advantages of these options lie in their capacity to ventilate the necessary flows through the fireplace and up the chimney.

However, they require a complicating process to function such as a thermostatically-controlled electric duct heater of substantial output.

Thus, these might be expensive to install.

Glass doors

Glassdoor assembly is a simpler and cheaper option to consider.

The main function of a glass door is to reduce the spillage level of a fireplace. This is because the doors can make the flow rate drop by three-quarters to 50 to 150cfm, depending on fire size, flue size, and door leakage.

In fact, the door helps to create a barrier between the fire and the room, which will then increase significantly the spillage-resistant level of the fireplace.

Glass doors

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In fact, some people are concerned that glass doors might affect the aesthetic aspects of a traditional open fireplace. It is undeniable that the glass door will prevent some of you from enjoying the beautiful sound of wood burning.

Some damages are caused by fire spillage to rugs, floors and nearby furniture. However, it is important to consider its role in preventing them.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified fireplace

Alternatively, you can choose a fireplace design that has the characteristics suitable for a tight space.

A good recommendation is a controlled-combustion fireplace. The design includes doors with gasket, and it manages both the amount and location of combustion air. This fireplace can reduce wood demand by three-quarters to 15 to 30 cfm by limiting the air flow closers to the amount needed for wood combustion.

Moreover, this kind of fireplace can also include all designs that meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission limits for wood heaters and massive heat storage units. For examples masonry heaters, Russian fireplaces, and their ilk.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified fireplace

Image source: Ambassador Fireplaces

The advantage of an EPA certified fireplace lies in its capacity to increase the efficiency of wood burnt in a fireplace. A normal open fireplace takes up so much room air. It delivers between zero to 20 percent net efficiency. Besides, an EPA certified fireplace can deliver between 60 and 70 percent efficiency.

It seems that even though you are enjoying the comfort and convenience of a modern house, you might still miss the feeling of sitting in a comfortable chair and feel the warmth of a real fireplace. Therefore, we recommend the above options for you so that you can match technology with an authentic experience.


You can choose from an efficient chimney top fan or a make-up air system to a simpler installation of glass doors. Alternatively, the choice of an EPA certified fireplace can help to reduce room air consumption and depressurize the room. We believe that you can make the best decision so that you can enjoy your upcoming winter the best.

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