Our fireplaces are meant to be enjoyed. They warm our homes and create a welcoming atmosphere. Unfortunately, a drafty chimney can do the opposite. Do you have smoke blowing back into your home, lingering odors, or more? If so, draft issues can make it difficult to fully enjoy your fireplace.
These can appear because of several different potential underlying problems. Therefore, a chimney inspection is often needed. This is in order to uncover the cause of a draft.
The following are four of the most common causes of chimney draft issues:
- Air tight house.
Keeping your home air tight might seem like a good way to reduce energy waste and lower utility costs. However, an air tight home can actually negatively effect fireplace use. When the fireplace does not have enough fresh air to draw from, it will “pull” cold air down the chimney. This causes smoke, gas, ash, and soot to blow back into your home. Opening a nearby window as little as 1-2 inches can provide the fire with enough oxygen to burn. In addition, correct the draft without effecting the air temperature in your home.
- Partially opening the damper.
The fireplace damper should be opened completely the entire time the fireplace is in use. At the time from lighting the kindling, down to when it naturally extinguishes. Even leaving the damper partially closed can cause smoke – as well as dangerous gas – to back up into your home. If cold air seems to be coming in through the chimney even when the damper is closed, it may have lost its airtight seal. This can be caused by damage from use, exposure to heat, water damage, or simple wear and tear. Replacing the damper can prevent outside air from coming inside your home and affecting the inside air temperature.
- Improperly sized flue.
Many homeowners believe that all chimneys and flues are created equal. In fact, the type of flue your home needs depends on the size of your fireplace. Furthermore, it depends on the kind of fuel it burns and more! Having an improperly sized flue can also lead to potential drafting problems. If the flue is too large, too much cold air in the chimney can cause excessive creosote buildup. Likewise, if the flue is too small, the byproducts of combustion will not be able to properly vent up the chimney.
- Chimney blockages.
Blockages in the chimney can constrict air flow and lead to drafting issues. Anything that falls down an uncapped chimney – or a chimney with a damaged chimney cap – can cause drafting problems; animal nests and debris such as sticks and leaves are the most common causes of chimney blockages. Having an annual chimney sweeping and inspection is often the best way to prevent a buildup of soot, ash, creosote, or other blockages. If your chimney has not been cleaned in some time, creosote buildup may be to blame for your smoking issues. To prevent this, have your chimney swept each year. This will remove creosote, ash, soot, or other blockages that can impact chimney performance.
Don’t let a drafty chimney keep you from enjoying your fireplace! Contact us at Jack Pixley Sweeps today for more information on diagnosing chimney drafting issues or to schedule your next appointment.