So you have old fireplaces in a home from the early 1900’s, or 1800’s to 1700’s?

Historic homes with old fireplaces are often wide open or have broken dampers and hardware that rusted and rotted-out a long time ago. It is impossible to get parts for these old fireplaces, because they were custom made by metalsmiths that have long passed.

jagged old fireplaces

Jagged old fireplace

Old historic homes in general are filled with history and character and wonderful features from a by-gone era. But they are also a lot of work and they are full of surprises. Upgrading or fixing the old fireplaces in a home that is over 100 years old can be a challenge, but it will require some measurements and perhaps a custom sized Flueblocker chimney plug. Or you may have to trim the wool pad of the Flueblocker to fit an irregular shape or size.

Look for a location above the firebox that is low enough to touch with your hands, that you could install a Flueblocker into. Measure the length and depth of that area and buy a Flueblocker that is a little larger than that space. If it is an irregular or trapezoidal shape be sure to measure the widest points and narrowest points.

Best way to close off an old fireplace?

Often the wool padded Flueblocker is better than an inflatable Chimney Balloon in these old fireplaces, because the broken bricks and sharp rusted metal can cause punctures to an inflatable chimney plug. Also the Flueblocker can be ordered in custom sizes to accommodate very large openings, and you have the option to scissor-cut them to fit if needed.

Energy Efficient Home Improvements Like Blocking the Chimney

Flueblocker above the firebox

Construction materials are different in old fireplaces

Because old fireplaces are often thoroughly coated with years of creosote, ash, and soot it is best to seal the chimney as low as possible to seal out the smokey and sooty smells of the smoke chamber and flue. Old fireplaces are generally brick and mortarĀ  from top to bottom, and do not have modern featured like a clay or stainless steel flue tile.

The brick and mortar can often be crumbly or broken from centuries of wear and tear. You cannot assume a fireplace is even safe to burn in. It is important to have a level 2 chimney inspection done before an old fireplace is used for burning. In my experience, historic homes rarely have fireplaces that can be used before they have extensive work done. The old fireplaces may have worked well centuries ago, but they need an upgrade to work today.