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Troubleshooting Draft Problems

Fireplaces are meant to be enjoyable, creating a welcoming, warming, and relaxing atmosphere. A drafty fireplace, however, can disrupt this idyllic scene. Whether it’s cold air rattling through the chimney or smoke blowing back into your home, fireplace draft problems often cause homeowners to stop using their fireplaces altogether.

While there are a number of things that can cause draft problems, the following five reasons are some of the most common causes of fireplace draft and smoke issues.

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1. An air-tight house

During the cold months of winter, most homeowners keep all doors and windows shut and tightly sealed. While this keeps cold air from getting into your home, it can cause issues with smoke while your fireplace is in use.

Fires need fresh air in order to burn their best; if your house is tightly sealed, the fire will “pull” cold outside air down the chimney. This often causes smoke to draft into the room. To avoid this, crack the window nearest the fireplace open as little as 1-2 inches. This small opening will give the fire the oxygen it needs without affecting the temperature in your home.

2. Incorrectly using the damper

The damper should always be kept completely open when the fireplace is in use – even when you are preparing to light a fire. Keeping the damper partially open while the fire is being lit or is burning itself out is one way to cause smoke to back up into your home.

If your damper is stuck or outside air seems to be getting in even when the damper is closed, your damper may need to be repaired or replaced.

3. The wrong flue size

If your fireplace has been altered in any way – such as installing a wood source or insert into an existing masonry firebox – since the chimney was built, you may need to resize the flue. A flue that is too large will cause an excessive amount of creosote buildup due to too much cold air in the chimney; a flue that is too small cannot vent properly and can cause smoking issues.

4. Blockages in the chimney or flue

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 to remove creosote, ash, soot, or other blockages that can impact chimney performance.

5. Chimney height

Changes to your roofline or roof height can impact your chimney’s performance. Taller chimneys are known to draw air better than shorter chimneys; some homeowners are able to solve their drafting issues by adding several feet of height to their chimneys.

Likewise, chimney height can also change how strong winds or downdrafts impact your chimney. Heavy winds may be responsible for pushing smoke back down the chimney; this problem can also be solved by ensuring the chimney cap is not damaged, the right size, and has been properly installed.

Instead of throwing in the towel on your drafty fireplace, trust the experts at Guaranteed Chimney Service to troubleshoot your draft issues. Contact them today to find out why your fireplace has draft or smoke issues at get back to enjoying your fireplace once more!

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