Although wood burning fireplaces are aesthetically pleasing, they can be very inefficient. With rising energy costs, a wood burning fireplace is a great alternative to save money on home heating costs. Although fireplaces radiate heat, they can also allow some of the heated air to be pulled back out of the home. If you have a metal flue and/or a metal damper, this can make this inefficiency even worse.  Here are a few things you can do to increase the efficiency of your fireplace and show you how to stop cold air from coming in fireplaces.

1. Use a top sealing damper

The purpose of a top sealing damper is to act like a storm door to keep your heated or conditioned air in the home. It is placed on the top of the chimney much like a cap but it is easier to install and comes with a rubber attachment piece to keep it air tight.

The cool or hot air outside the home will be kept out. When not burning the fireplace, this small investment will pay for itself and then some in a very short while through the money you’ll save in heating and cooling costs.


LockTop sealing dampers can replace throat dampers. Throat dampers are installed just above the firebox. They do not create an airtight seal, and are made completely of metal. While they will prevent some draft, over time these dampers will warp or rust, making them less efficient. While top sealing dampers are preferred, either of these options are better than having no damper at all.

2. Install a fireback

Another inexpensive way to increase your fireplace’s efficiency is to install a fireback. A radiant fireback is a cast iron plate designed to protect the firebox from damage. Decorative designs also add to your home’s décor.

The fireback absorbs heat from the fire and radiates it back into the room. A fireback prevents heat from being absorbed by the liner of the flue and gives your fire more bang for your buck.

3. Fireplace heaters

Fireplace heaters are another option to increase the efficiency of your fireplace. These are closed circuit heaters that take air from the room, circulate it through a chamber heated by the fire, and then release it back into the room as warm air. Since it is closed circuit, no smoke will be pouring into the room.


4. Fireplace Glass Doors

Making an investment in fireplace glass doors for a chimney offers another level of safety for your home by protecting pets and children from the flames, as well as increasing the efficiency of your fireplace. Installing these doors yourself can help save on some of the cost of purchasing them. If you have an open, wood burning fireplace, it is wise to make an investment in a mesh screen to protect carpet and family members from the burning embers that are frequently shot out of the firebox. Some of the most modern doors are crafted beautifully and can really add character and charm to any living room. Since the fireplace is using less inside air from combustion with the doors closed, the doors increase your fireplace’s efficiency.

5. Grate heaters

Grate heaters are another great option to increase your fireplace’s efficiency and can be used in conjunction with glass doors. Hollow tubing from grate heaters get hot from the fire and a fan blows this heat into the room. Some are controlled by thermostats, others are manually controlled. This is a relatively inexpensive way to help heat your home.

If you plan on heating your home with a fireplace, these small investments can increase the efficiency of your investment and save you money. Look into a few of these options, you’ll be amazed at the savings you’ll find!

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Clay Lamb
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15 thoughts on “Wood Burning Fireplaces – How to “stop cold air” from coming in fireplaces

  1. Thanks for sharing the information Clay. I believe that it is important to understand the interiors of a room before you install a fireplace in your house.

  2. I’m a REALTOR and my seller wants to know why he has to install a flue stop in his chimney/fireplace? Looking for a laymen’s explanation as it makes sense to me to have one. Besides the obvious of cold / hot air in and out, what happens if you don’t have one with a wood burning fireplace or a gas log fireplace? carbon monoxide?

  3. Where can we purchase one of the grate heaters without the fan? We presently have one but two of the pipes are now cracked and we’d really like to replace it because it has worked very well for us.

  4. Sherril,

    My best advice to you is just to google exactly what product you want. Google will direct you to sites that offer all manner of chimney products and your grate heater will be available on one or more of those sites! Be sure to look for a BBB logo or an Angie’s List seal to ensure quality service and product.

  5. on a chain operated damper, which way opens the damper and closes it? If you pull it down all the way is that opened or closed?

  6. Put on a pair of garden gloves and shine a bright light up the flue system. Pull the chain one way and look up and then pull the chain the other and look up into the flue again. You will be able to see when the damper is open or closed by looking up the flue system with a bright light shining up there.

  7. NOTE: If you have an outside air intake trap door (check) -ours is hidden in the bottom vent under the firebox to the side- well closing the door when not using the fireplace, does a tremendous difference! …but enough cold air still comes in thru our metal throat damper, so i am very interested by the top sealing damper idea!
    Remember to open the airtake door when you want to use the fireplace!

  8. I have a wood buring fireplace that has a vent above it and below it. My problem is cold air blow through it almost like a window is open. The air is not comming through the flu. What causes the air to come through both these vents and how do I go about stopping it.

  9. I just moved into a property, but the chimney has been boarded off and it has a sliding vent on the board. The problem is that when it’s windy I can hear with wind sipping through the gaps in the vent.

    Is there a way to totally block cold air sipping down the chimney?

  10. I would recommend contacting a couple of local chimney contractors before sealing any vents up! You may be making a bad situation even worse. There is wisdom in the counsel of many!

  11. I have a question. I found what looks like a beehive BUT it surely can’t be because there is only one way out – – and that’s through the bottom. It’s wooden with overlapping slats (that DO NOT OPEN) and I found it in my garage (at least there 25 years). Is there a such thing as a chimney plug or topper that closes the TOP of the chimney? It’s about 3′ tall and is square. I have pictures but no way to attach them. Help?

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