10 Reasons Your Fireplace Might not Work Properly

fireplaceWhy fireplaces work, and the best way to construct them, has actually been a topic of argument for centuries. From the very first stone rings stacked around the campfire, to the modern factory constructed fireplaces with carefully engineered dimensions, there has been a stable advancement of design criteria to see to it they draw well and cast as much heat as possible. Most of this evolution has actually been by trial and error, and some designs work much better than others. For information about repairing a chimney please see Capital Chimney Corp.’s chimney repair Chicago page.

Basically, fireplaces work primarily since hot air rises. When you start a fire, the air inside the chimney ends up being warmer and less dense than the air outside the chimney, and subsequently it starts to rise. As the warm air rises, cooler air from the space flows into the firebox, fanning the fire, producing more heat in an ongoing cycle. There are likewise some pressure differentials produced as wind moves across the top of your chimney.

There are probably at least 100 reasons why your fireplace might not operate effectively. We will cover 10 of the basics here beginning with the easy obvious solutions and working towards the more arcane. Kindly keep in mind this is a really simplified list of the most common reasons that fireplaces don’t work. A real understanding of fireplaces requires comprehensive knowledge of air flow patterns, pressure differentials, and real fireplace building strategies. If the details offered here do not help you resolve the problem with your fireplace, think about working with a seasoned, certified chimney sweep near your location. Often the problem is evident to somebody with enough experience once they can examine the whole circumstance.

1) Is your damper totally open? Everyone ultimately forgets to open the damper. Numerous dampers also cease to totally open because of water damage or soot buildup behind them on the smoke rack. An excellent professional cleaning can generally resolve this issue.

2) Is your firewood green or wet from rain or snow? Keep in mind the major factor your fireplace works at all is the heat inside the chimney. If your wood is not dry it makes more smoke than heat and there merely might not be enough heat for the chimney to work effectively.

3) Is your chimney unclean? The progressive build-up of soot can seriously influence the method your chimney performs. Thick layers of soot obviously can physically limit the flue so there is no longer adequate free area to vent the fireplace properly, (see problem 5) however as little as a 1/4″ to 1/2″ inch accumulation can make more distinction than you may think. Consider that a 1/2″ accumulation will certainly restrict the air circulation by 17 % for a typical masonry fireplace chimney, and by a monstrous 30 % for the average prefab. Birds and little animals also think your chimney resembles a hollow tree where to establish housekeeping. Sweeps typically discover chimneys literally packed full of leaves, branches and infant animals. The solution naturally is a great cleaning and a chimney cap.

4) Is your chimney tall enough? To function effectively, the chimney ought to be at least 10 or 12 feet in overall height. Where it forecasts above the roof, the chimney should be at least 3 feet tall, and a minimum of 2 feet higher than anything within 10 feet of it-including other structures, trees, and so on. If your fireplace smokes because your chimney is too short, the problem is normally even worse when the wind blows.

5) Is your flue big enough for the fireplace opening? There are numerous variables that can affect this including: overall chimney height, how warm the flue remains, throat setup, and so on; however the basic general rule here is that the area of the fireplace opening can be no more than 10 times the location of the flue (12 times for round flues). A small flue simply cannot deal with the volume of smoke produced, and some of it will certainly spill back into the room. Considering that there is no practical method to make the flue size larger, the solution may be to make the space opening smaller with metal smoke guards or some imaginative masonry work. In fact there are now some pre-manufactured refractory firebox retrofits that work well with a 15 to 1 ratio and provide twice the heat of conventional fireboxes.

6) Is your chimney on the outside of your house? Remember that warm rising air is the fundamental engine involved right here. If you have a large masonry chimney on the outside of the house, and it’s cold outside, the air within the chimney will likewise be extremely cold, and it will wish to come down the chimney instead of going up. This can even happen a day or two after it’s warmed up outside. These chimneys might be tough to start and they might smoke as the fire burns low. To get the fire started many people light some rolled up paper and hold it up near the damper to keep that cold plug moving upwards. Keeping a moderate sized, but bright, actively flaming fire can likewise help this situation. Remember that as the fire dies down, it will return back to the original direction of flow.

7) Is your home too small? Fireplaces need large volumes of air to burn. Imagine a 12″ x 12″ column of air rising up your chimney and leaving the top the entire time your fireplace is working (however don’t imagine your heat costs!). This air comes from inside the living area and should in some way be replaced. With modern-day energy efficiency concerns most homes have been thoroughly insulated and weather-stripped to shut out the cold drafts, but an unwanted negative effect is that there is commonly no place for all that air leaving the chimney to get back in. This can lead to fireplaces that burn sluggishly and smoke. A short term option is to open a window to let in a little air, ideally on the windward side of the house. It can likewise result in extremely harmful carbon monoxide gas accumulation if your fireplace and heating system need to compete for combustion air, and a permanent solution ought to be discovered as soon as possible.

8) Your house can also be too loose! A residence that leaks too much air to the outside, especially a multistory home that leaks air in the upper levels, can actually set up its own draft or chimney effect strong enough to overpower your fireplace chimney, specifically if the fireplace is located in the basement on a cold exterior wall. Make certain the attic access door is in place and that all upstairs windows are closed properly.

9) Is there a return air grill in the very same space as the fireplace? As the fireplace consumes air and cold air moves into the house to change it, the heater is likely to come on. When the heating system begins, air is drawn into the return contending straight with the requirements of the fireplace.

10) The 10th reason your fireplace can smoke could really be a bunch of different reasons concerning mostly with design issues when the fireplace was constructed. Aside from the chimney being too short, or too small, the chimney can also be too large, too tall, too crooked, etc. ad infinitum! A lot of these details are relatively technical in nature, and once more a good sweep might be your best option.