Like Nancy Drew in An Old House

There is always a mystery in every home.  What makes that weird noise in the middle of the night.  Why is there a wall bump out there.  How did that water stain get on the ceiling?

One question that has been plaguing me with our house ever since we moved in was our ‘fireplace’.


The first time we toured the house when we were shopping, I just thought, “cool it has a fireplace”.  The listing said the house had a fireplace, so I took it at face value.  The second or third time we walked through the house before buying, I inspected it a bit closer and found out it was a fake.


Where there should have been an opening or a door, there was wallpaper behind the metal faceplate.  “Oh, okay, when they remodeled they must have sealed off the chimney”.  It obviously did not affect our buying decision.  We never had our hearts set on having a fireplace.

Still, thoughts about the ‘fireplace’ have always bothered me.  The chimney was right there, so it was a logical place for a fireplace.  It fit the room perfectly.  Then there would be little clues here and there, like when our roof leaked in an epic freezing rain a month ago and I mentioned to my neighbor that maybe it would be better just to get rid of the entire chimney above the roof line, to which he replied that the previous owner had always hoped to restore the fireplace.

So, as I sat at my desk, 8 feet away from it today, I got the sneaking suspicion that maybe ‘blocking’ off the fireplace was more along the lines of “let’s drape some paper thin wallpaper across the opening and call it good”.

Getting up and really personal with it, I saw that the bottom trim wasn’t nailed into anything and could be removed by hand.


I could feel a draft of cold air emanate out from the sizable gap.  Cob webs were whipping about as well.  Uh oh.  I remembered a different house that we tried to buy before this one, and it also had an open chimney with no damper to keep the cold air out.  Would this be the same?  The gap was too small to see with my own eyes, but I was able to squeeze my phone in to take some pictures.


That’s a chimney alright.  I cannot see any daylight at the top of the picture, so there must be some sort of ventilation cap installed or maybe there is a damper.  Now I have even more questions!  First and foremost, are we losing 8% of our heating bill out a big hole in the middle of our house?