It can be a bit of a challenge to make some chimney's
work: especially when it gets cold. Cold air is very "heavy". The column
of air inside a chimney can be like a huge "cold-plug". It
really does require a diligent effort to move this "cold plug" out of the
chimney. It takes more time than some people imagine just to get a chimney
to start "drawing." They need to understand that a warm air "siphon"
must be created. This may require five or ten minutes of careful effort.
The best way to make your chimney work, is to take the time to
establish a good draw.
The first best trick to enable a chimney
to draw is to: crack a window. Remember, the properly drafting chimney
is very much like a siphon. If the chimney has no available air source:
it can not draft. It can even matter which window in the room is "cracked
open." Simply put, the wind must be blowing AT the window.
The object is to bring pressure into the room.
The next best trick to enable a chimney
to draw is to: pre-heat the flue. This is the critical step.
You must take arms against the atmospheric-cold-blanket of heavy arctic
air. Mother nature is bearing down with a vengeance on your chimney; you
must take the time to create a miniature artificial environment: inside
your own chimney. You must break through the cold plug of air clogging
up your chimney, and then keep pushing until a warm air siphon is created,
then your fireplace can burn majestically in the freezing cold winter!
* NOTE: Chimney absolutely must be free of flammable creosote deposits!
If the chimney is "dirty", holding flaming torches up the flue can ignite
the creosote and cause a volcanic chimney fire! Chimney fire's are extremely
dangerous because they "rage" at 2100 degrees Fahrenheit with volcanic
fury! Under normal circumstances, creosote deposits are very visible
to the naked eye:Call a Chimney Sweep if you are unsure if the Chimney is clean.
There are a number of problems a chimney may have,
which actually make establishing a good draw difficult. But, 9 out of 10
people who think they have "smoke problems" really don't. Most people just
don't realize that they need to take more time to get their fireplace
working in the first place. But, there are a number of possible problems
that need to be considered.
Sometimes, the opening of the fireplace is a little
too big for the size of the flue in the chimney. In cases like this, smoke
perpetually spills out into the room. There is a way to test to see if
your chimney has this problem. Tape up a 4 inch strip of aluminum foil
across the top of the opening of your fireplace. The object is to cut down
the size of the opening of the fireplace, so that the flue doesn't have
to exhaust so much incoming air. Use your fireplace several times with
this temporary "smoke guard." If the 4 inch aluminum foil strip eliminates
your problem, install a real Smoke-Guard. Average cost to install
a Smoke-Guard is about $120.00.
If a chimney is too short, the siphon (draw) which
must be created, is easily broken by wind changes, or other factors. A
chimney needs to be a least 10 ft high. The best chimney's are between
12 and 16 feet high. If your chimney is less than 10 feet high, and a carefully
established draw cannot be maintained for an extended period, you may need
to extend your chimney. Special caps are used to extend a chimney, contact us for a quote.
"Every chimney shall extend above the roof,
and the highest elevation of any part of the building." (Uniform
Building Code Sec. 3703) Trees, or higher buildings very near a chimney
can also affect a good draw. The top of the chimney is supposed to be the
highest spot of your house, within a fifteen foot radius. To effect this,
sometimes nearby foliage needs to be removed, or the chimney may even need
to be extended. Remember, however, that even most of these types of smoking
problems can be "fixed" simply by taking more time to establish a good
If you continue to have problems despite these tips, we carry special downdraft caps and Power Ventilators to cure even the toughest smoke problems
If you need further advise about fixing a smoking chimney, call an expert. Fireguard Chimney Services, Inc. has over 20 years experience in Lower Fairfield County, diagnosing, and fixing smoke problems. I am happy to help you with any chimney related problem in my service area.