10 Reasons Why Your Fireplace Doesn’t Work

From wet wood to flue size, there can be any number of reasons why your fireplace doesn’t work. The best way to find out what’s going wrong is simply to call for one of our experts at Chimney Sweeps of America Inc. to come and evaluate your situation.

By hiring an expert, you’ll be able to rely on someone with extensive knowledge of air flow, pressure differentials and the physical construction necessary for a chimney to work properly. Someone who can diagnose the most severe problems and figure out how to fix them. Plus, you will be a lot safer in the long run with an expert on the job rather than trying to do it yourself.

However, for those who would like to learn more or want to understand more about their fireplace, here is a list of 10 reasons why your fireplace doesn’t work.

  1. Improper damper position

Maybe it is as simple forgetting to open the damper all the way. Sometimes, though, soot and debris can build up, preventing it from opening correctly. Residue buildup is easily fixed with a professional cleaning.

  1. Green or wet wood

Firewood should be seasoned, that is, very dry when burned otherwise the wood will produce more smoke than heat and your chimney will not function properly.

  1. Dirty chimney

Even just half an inch of buildup on the inside of your chimney can have serious consequences on how fluidly air can flow and how effective your chimney will perform.

  1. Tall chimney

For a chimney to function properly, it must be tall enough. It should be at least 10-12 feet tall, 3 feet above the roof and 2 feet higher than anything within 10 feet. If the problem worsens when the wind blows, that is an indication that your chimney is too short.

  1. Wrong-size flue

A fireplace opening should generally be no larger than ten times the size of the flue. Otherwise, the smoke cannot funnel out fast enough and may spit back into the room. Obviously, you cannot change your flue size easily, but you can minimize your opening with smoke guards.

  1. Chimney location

Chimneys located on the outside of the house will be colder and will cool the gasses faster as they rise. They could actually cool them enough to force them back down – as we know that hot air rises, not cold. To combat this, you should keep a brisk fire going and not let it die down too much.

  1. Too much insulation

Nowadays, modern homes are buttoned up pretty tight to be energy efficient and to combat cold drafts, but the air that is exiting out of your chimney needs to be replaced from somewhere. If your fire is burning sluggishly or smoke is coming back into the room, try opening a window and see if that alleviates the problem.

  1. Not enough insulation

The opposite can also be true. If your home is too drafty, it can be overwhelming to your fire and put it out. Make sure that all windows are closed, particularly ones upstairs.

  1. Return grill for furnace near fireplace

If you have a furnace and the return air grill is in the same room as the fireplace, running both at the same time will cause them to compete for air.

  1. Everything else

Believe it or not, your fireplace could experience any number of other problems, such as poor construction, and can be identified best by a qualified professional.

As always, if you have any questions or need a professional diagnosis, simply give us a call here at Chimney Sweeps of America, and we will be glad to figure out and fix why your fireplace doesn’t work.

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