When it comes to your chimney and fireplace or stove working safely and efficiently, draft is everything. But most people don’t know a thing about draft—not even what it is, least of all why it matters or what sorts of things affect it. Yucky fireplace odors and smoking fireplaces are common ways our customers determine that they have a draft problem, but the signs aren’t always so obvious. In fact, because carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless and is often pulled into the living space when a chimney is drafting improperly, we recommend annual inspections by a certified chimney technician to keep your family safe and make sure that your chimney and appliance are operating properly.
Here are four of the most common ways we see chimney draft affected and remedied:
Chimney Flue Size or Height
The height of your chimney and size of your flue is extremely important, and it should be in direct proportion to the width and height of your fireplace or wood stove’s opening. If a chimney is too small there may not be room enough for your chimney to vent all the smoke being produced; if your chimney is too big then it may not draw combustion byproducts and toxic gases out of your fireplace or stove quickly enough. Luckily, if your chimney is too big, installation of a stainless steel flue liner will often solve this problem by creating the optimal size flue for your heating appliance.
A chimney can be blocked by any number of things—for instance, animals’ nests, debris, and soot and creosote. These things both inhibit proper draft and create a fire hazard.
Air Intrusion into the Flue
A chimney should never share a vent with another appliance, as this can reduce chimney updraft. Likewise, one should consider the affect of even small openings in the chimney—such as the thimble opening or cleanout door—on draft.
A Cold Flue
Believe it or not an especially cold chimney can, when unused, fill with high-density air that prevents smoke from flowing up and out of a chimney when a fire is lit. It’s helpful to “prime” a cold chimney before starting a roaring fire.
This is certainly not a comprehensive list when it comes to troubleshooting chimney drafting problems. If you live in the Columbia, South Carolina, area and suspect that your chimney isn’t drafting properly, contact us immediately. We can repair or update your existing appliance or outfit your home with a fireplace or stove that will minimize your drafting concerns.