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Asked a question 2 years ago

I have a fireplace in my townhome. Can fireplaces exist in a Passive House or does it need to be sealed?

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Ed May
Partner, Building-Type LLC

Hi Katherine, 

Thats a good question - while I certainly wouldn't recommend it, I do understand that fireplaces are really important to a lot of homeowners. So yes: we can and do build fireplaces into our Passive House projects. There are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • The firebox should be airtight with good seals on any doors / hatches.
  • The firebox should have its own dedicated combustion air and never use the room air for combustion. Along these lines - we'd never recommend an 'open' wood fireplace in a high performance air-tight home.
  • With a Passive House, due to the very, very low need for heating you'll likely overheat the space pretty quickly even with a small fireplace - so be prepared to open a window or crack a door if you have 4 or 5 people over and a fire going. It'll get warm in there!

But the short answer is yes, although you do need to think about it and design it in carefully.




Prudence Ferreira
Passive House Practice Lead - Morrison Hershfield

Hi Katherine,


You've received some excellent feedback from the community! I have one more thing to add: If you do go the route of purchasing a low BTU output firebox (off the shelf with dedicated combustion air and exhaust air ducted to the firebox via airsealed ducts, be aware that most fireboxes, although stated to be "airtight" will leak to the tune of about 20-25 CFM50 during a blower door test.

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