Wood Fireplace Drawbacks

All across the globe, millions, and millions of people enjoy a roaring fire in a wood fireplace. While there are a number of benefits to a wood fireplace, you might be surprised to discover some drawbacks, as well. For instance, most conventional fireplaces make lighting a fire difficult. Other potential problems include excess smoke, unwanted drafts of cold air, and so on. In fact, if a conventional fireplace is not maintained properly, it could pose a serious and even deadly problem.


One of the more common complaints about conventional fireplaces is that they are inefficient. In fact, most only provide about 10% energy efficiency, opposed to an oil furnace or gas fireplace that offers as much as 80% efficiency. Unless the fireplace has the right type of blower, most do little to add warmth to the home. A number of conventional fireplaces actually cause more heat consumption from the furnace, meaning they do more harm than they do good.

Typically, fireplaces burn inefficiently because while a fire is burning, the warm air from inside the home is going out through the chimney. As touched on, a conventional fireplace will often use 10 times air needed by an oil furnace or gas fireplace. Another common problem is that of the air drawn into the fireplace just a small amount is used for combustion while the remaining air escapes.

Tramp Air

This escaped air, known as "tramp air" causes two distinct problems. The first problem is that tramp air draws heat created by the fire, pushing it out through the chimney instead of pushing it into the home to heat it. The second problem is that tramp air causes too much air exchange within the home. Consider this - a large fire in a conventional fireplace could cause all the household air being forced up the chimney by as much as 1.4 times every hour.

In most cases, the conventional fireplace has too large an area through which air is leaked, being the chimney. This means that while you are burning wood to heat the home, cold air is actually coming inside, defeating the purpose. Although the damper is supposed to help with this, not all do. One option is to use proper fitting glass doors but even then, heat loss is probable.

Environmental Affect

You will also find that conventional fireplaces have an affect on the environment. When wood is burned, higher levels of emissions are produced. As a result, the outside air is polluted, not to mention pollution within the home. This problem could be from poor construction of the fireplace, as well as the type of wood being burned. What happens is that as the fire burns, combustion products to include water in the wood are literally being boiled, which forms smoke. The bottom line is that if you want to use a conventional fireplace, consider the drawbacks prior to making your final decision.