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Reasons You Can’t Get a Fire Burning in Your Fireplace Pt 2

Fire Won't StartYou’re yearning to settle in on your couch beside a roaring fire but, for some reason, you can’t get a good blaze going. If you’ve ruled out reasons one through five in Part 1 of our series, you might be able to find the answer in this list. Whether you’ve got a wood fireplace that’s smoking instead of burning or a gas fireplace that won’t light, most likely one of these reasons is the cause.

6.  Your Gas Valve is Blocked

In a gas fireplace, a properly functioning thermocoupling is essential. Even a small amount of dust in the thermocoupling can prevent your gas valve from releasing enough gas to be ignited. If it is dusty, you can clean the threads on the nuts with a pencil eraser and re-tighten them.

7.  Your Gas is Off

For homeowners with a gas fireplace that isn’t work the solution may be as simple as checking to that the gas supply is on. Usually the gas supply is controlled by a switch on the wall or a valve near your fireplace. For some reason, it may have been switched off. Be sure it is in the on position. If you know that the gas line is open, it may be that a utility bill was lost in the mail and you are not receiving service. In this case, you would be wise to contact your gas supply company.

8.  Your Chimney is Too Short

Whether you have a gas or wood burning fireplace, the chimney needs to be at least 10 feet high to function properly. It should be more than 2 feet higher than any trees or buildings within 10 feet of it and should project above the roof by at least 3 feet. Having too short of a chimney will allow wind to blow smoke back into your home, a powerful gust could even blow out that fire you’re trying to get going. A short chimney should be extended. Installing a motorized draft inducer on your chimney is another, pricier, option.

Proper Flue Sizes9. Your Flue Isn’t the Right Size

You flue needs to be the right size for your fireplace. If you flue is too small, smoke will spill back into your home. A flue is considered too small if the fireplace is more than 10 times its size or more than12 times if you have a round flue. To resolve this problem, you can slim down the size of your fireplace with clever masonry work, metal smoke guards or by installing an appropriate fireplace insert. It is equally important that you choose a fireplace insert that is made for your size flue.

If your flue is too large for your fireplace insert it will also be difficult to light a fire. For these reasons, it is invaluable to have a profession inspect your chimney when you move into a new house with a fireplace or to have his/her help when choosing and installing a fireplace insert.

10. You Do Not Have an Appropriate Draft

Having a home that is too drafty or not drafty enough can make it hard for a fire to burn well. If you have a house with scanty insulation and poor weather-stripping, especially one with multiple stories, the draft created by the air leaking into your home may overpower your fireplace. Having your windows tightly shut and keeping your attic door closed can help reduce the draft so that you are able to get a good blaze going.

Conversely, if your home is too tightly constructed your fire may struggle to keep burning because there is not enough air. Fires need to draw a large volume of air from your living area to burn. Modern weather-stripping and efficient insulation often do not create a good enough draft. This can cause your fire to burn sluggishly and can endanger your family by causing poisonous carbon monoxide gas to collect in your fireplace or be pushed into your home by a reverse draft. Opening up a window is a practical temporary solution but you should bring in a professional soon to find a permanent solution. It is important to take the risk seriously, especially since carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of death by poisoning in the United States. Ensure you that your family can enjoy the pleasures of your hearth safely by calling in a professional chimney sweep to help.

This list is not exhaustive there may be other reasons that your fireplace is not lighting. Contact your local UFS member store to speak with a hearth expert regarding the situation. They can offer some advice or even direct you to the best rated fireplace units if you decide to upgrade your current unit.

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