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Vents between floors

I hope I am describing this well enough for people to understand.

I live in a house built between 1895 and 1905.

The house has two rooms with fireplaces that share common chimney.

In the ceiling about 2 feet in front of each of the fireplaces there is a circular hole that is covered with a round metal cover.

Directly above where these circular holes is the second floor and rooms.

I thought that at one time that they may have been a stove and the vent from the stove went thru the holes in the ceiling extended thru the second floor all the way to the roof.

The other day I started ripping out the carpeting on the second floor and to my surprise under it I found a vent register. I pulled up the register and saw what looked like to top of the round cover that is in the ceiling. This cover is held in place with a couple if springs. Once I popped the springs the cover fell down to the first floor and I could see all the way down.

Now my guess is that the register would be in the closed position in the summer and in the winter it would be open and the heat from the fireplace would go right upstairs thru this register.

Has anyone else come across something similar in their old home? Am I totally wrong in my thinking on its use?

Re: Vents between floors

You are right in your thinking. Many old homes had registers like this, to allow heat to pass from the lower room with the fireplace into the upper room.

The house my father grew up in has registers just like this.

Re: Vents between floors

i seem to have uncovered this as i removed plaster and lathe from my second floor bedroom. It is an aluminum box in the wall connected to a round duct and goes down to the ceiling space above the kitchen.

At first i thought it might have been an older vent for the kitchen but it opened towards the bedroom interior wall about a foot above the floor.

Re: Vents between floors

A friend of mine purchased a 100+ year home that orginally had a passive hot air heating system..
A coal fired furnace in the basement -- a few pipes to strategic baseboard vents in areas furthest from the furnace --- the areas over top and close by the furnace simply had vents cutout in the floor.
They relied on natural convection air currents ( warm air rising ) to heat the home.

Re: Vents between floors

Yup, it's called a gravity furnace. That's likely what you had. Cool air falls, warm air rises. It circulates by convection. That;s why these floor registers are often very very large.

In practice, the upstairs is usually too hot and downstairs too cold. Almost all of those homes were converted to forced air systems or hot water radiator systems.

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