Dealing With a Drafty Fireplace
The whole idea behind fireplaces is that they should add warmth and allure to a home. The allure part is usually no problem. Warmth, however, can be an issue, especially if your fireplace is experiencing backdrafts.
Air that moves from the chimney into the fireplace and therefore the room is called a backdraft. Of course, air (and exhaust matter, when a fire is burning) should move up the chimney and into the outside air. When this doesn’t happen, you need to do some investigating – either on your own or in combination with a trained chimney and fireplace inspector.
Solutions for a drafty fireplace
Cold air in the flue can prevent smoke and air from rising naturally. This can lead to a lot of problems in getting a fire started, but it’s usually easy to solve. Just create a heat source – such as a flaming rolled-up newspaper – and hold it up into the damper opening to warm the cold air in the flue.
Downdrafts that sweep into the room and upset everyone in it can often be corrected by adding a chimney cap to block outside wind. If the problem persists, consult a chimney professional.
Leakage is sometimes an issue with heating appliances, like wood stoves, that are vented through a stovepipe. There could be problems with how the pipe is fitted, or there might be damage to the connector joints. Inspecting for leaks is usually a job best done by a trained individual.
Negative air pressure in a home can make fires hard to start and keep running properly. For fire to burn, it needs air. Many newer homes are built too air-tight – think of it as a recipe for stagnant, non-moving air. Solve this by cracking open a nearby window or two.
Many obstructions in the chimney can cause backdrafts. Chimneys without a properly installed chimney cap leave the chimney open to a variety of debris such as twigs, leaves and bird’s nests, all of which can hamper air flow. If you have a chimney cap already, make sure any mesh screens are clear.
Chimney proportions often create problems, mostly in cases where a different unit is connected to an existing vent system, such as when a fireplace is replaced or a new one is installed without checking all the specs. In other words, you may be using a chimney that is not the appropriate size for your type of fireplace. If you suspect this is the case, arrange for an inspection.
Drafty fireplaces can be a nuisance, but they also can be dangerous. You don’t want a bunch of smoke and its toxic byproducts entering your home. By solving all your air-flow issues, you’ll be able to enjoy using your fireplace, knowing that everybody’s safe and warm inside.
United Fireplace & Stove member stores throughout North America carry the latest and greatest fireplace designs, built with the most advanced safety and warming technologies. We’re here to help you make your home what you want it to be with elegant units that will match any décor. Use our store finder to locate a UFS member store near you.