An Ultimate Guide to Fireplace Heat Exchanger – [Meaning & Installation]

Almost every single house in a cold area has a fireplace to keep warm, it’s kind of a standard thing to have. But a fireplace or a furnace is not the only available source of warmth, if you live in a place that requires as much warmth as possible to live comfortably, make sure to look for fireplaces that come with a heat exchanger. The simple function of a fireplace heat exchanger is to let more heat go around the room and keep the room as warm as possible. 

What is a Fireplace Heat Exchanger?

It doesn’t matter whether you are using gas, wood, or any other type of fuel for the fireplace, you can’t escape from the fact that most of the heat produced by your fireplace is lost through the chimney which is a huge loss when you calculate the amount of money you are paying. The heat that doesn’t go out of the chimney is just radiated into the surroundings. As you might know, radiated heat is only effective for a short-range.  So, to stay comfy, cozy, and warm in any corner of your house, you need something to spread the air all around the room. This thought caused the existence of a fireplace heat exchanger, it basically distributes the air through all corners of your room to keep it warm in all areas.  To answer your question in a simple way, a fireplace heat exchanger is a type of fan or blower that spreads the heat produced from your fireplace to a wider area. 

How does a Fireplace Heat Exchanger Distribute Air Around the Room?

Now that we know that a heat exchanger mainly does the work of distributing air around the surroundings, let’s look at how it does this task.  A fireplace exchanger warms the air by taking it through a network of steel tubes. The same tubes help in the circulation of that warm air all around your room. It is important to note that soot accumulates into the tubes as time goes by and you should keep cleaning the tubes from time to time. If you let the tubes be there without cleaning them constantly, then, you’ll see a great difference in the efficiency of your fireplace heat exchanger.  In order to do the work it does, a lot goes on in the fireplace heat exchanger. The tubes found in your heat exchanger are wrapped around the fire. The fan on the heat exchanger is used to suck in the cold air and replace it with warmer air. You won’t need to find any special place for your fire exchanger, it will fit perfectly into your fireplace. If you find that the exchanger doesn’t fit, you can adjust the heat exchanger to fit properly with the help of a trim kit. 

How to Easily Install a Fireplace Heat Exchanger? 

Installing a fireplace heat exchanger is not that hard of a task if you do it the right way. Here is a simple explanation of how to easily install your fireplace heat exchanger, just follow the below steps as it is and you should be left with a heat exchanger installed.

Get started with shaping your pipes

The first thing you should do before starting to put together the heat exchanger is to bend and shape the 5 threaded steel pipes into a C. You need to make sure that the shapes are in the right sizes, use a pipe bender to get it right. Note that the fire is at the bottom of the C-shaped wire so make the bottom part longer than the top one. Another thing you should pay attention to is the direction the edges are facing, make sure it’s the same.

Time to start drilling some holes  

Grab an electric drill to make your job easier and shoot two holes going into the wall where the top and the bottom part of your C shaped wire go. Don't put the drill away just yet, you’ve got a little more work to do with it. You will need to make five holes into your steel pipe and they have to be equally spaced out from each other. If you are a nit-picky person, take the help of a filer to make the edges of the holes smooth. 

Get to Assembling everything

The first thing you should do in this section is to screw all the end caps on the top section of the C pipe. Now, bolt a bar made of steel vertically, take the help of a bolt and a nut to make the process easier. This steel bar will go in the button section of your C pipe. 

Coat the fireplace heat exchanger with a heat resistant paint

To increase the life of the fireplace heat exchanger, paint it with metal paint that is resistant to heat. 

The final step: setting up 

Form a good-sized square by placing 4 bricks side by side, make sure you place these buddies inside your fireplace. While putting the fireplace heat exchanger on the bricks, make sure that all of the pipes face towards your room. This basically improves the airflow into your fireplace. Time to light a fire in the button of the C shaped pipe. 

You’ll notice that the fire heats up the pipes you’ve installed and the hot air produced is thrown out from the top of your end caps. The holes that we’ve drilled earlier are used to take the cold air in. 

Different Kinds of Heat Exchangers

There are a few varieties when it comes to heat exchangers as well. We’ll talk about the two main kinds of heat exchangers: top-mounted and insert heat exchangers.

Top-Mounted Fireplace Heat Exchangers 

Top-mounted heat exchangers are easily mountable and they do their work by sucking in the warm air produced from your fireplace and pushing it out with the help of a blower fan. 

You’ll notice that the fire heats up the pipes you’ve installed and the hot air produced is thrown out from the top of your end caps. The holes that we’ve drilled earlier are used to take the cold air in. 

Insert Fireplace Heat Exchangers 

An insert heat exchanger is actually a metal box that is fixed in your fireplace. This type of heat exchanger has a heat chamber built into them. This chamber gives out hot air which is then sent into the firebox. It is an amazing method of spreading warm air but is kinda expensive compared to the earlier option.

You’ll notice that the fire heats up the pipes you’ve installed and the hot air produced is thrown out from the top of your end caps. The holes that we’ve drilled earlier are used to take the cold air in. 

About the author

Jane Foster is the Editor In Chief at Heat Home, which helps people to make good choices for investing in new appliances.

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