Wood Burning Fireplaces – How to “stop cold air” from coming in fireplaces

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

Although wood burning fireplaces are aesthetically pleasing, they can be very inefficient. With rising energy costs, a wood burning fireplace is a great alternative to save money on home heating costs. Although fireplaces radiate heat, they can also allow some of the heated air to be pulled back out of the home. If you have a metal flue and/or a metal damper, this can make this inefficiency even worse.  Here are a few things you can do to increase the efficiency of your fireplace and show you how to stop cold air from coming in fireplaces.

1. Use a top sealing damper

The purpose of a top sealing damper is to act like a storm door to keep your heated or conditioned air in the home. It is placed on the top of the chimney much like a cap but it is easier to install and comes with a rubber attachment piece to keep it air tight.

The cool or hot air outside the home will be kept out. When not burning the fireplace, this small investment will pay for itself and then some in a very short while through the money you’ll save in heating and cooling costs.

imgres-1LockTop sealing dampers can replace throat dampers. Throat dampers are installed just above the firebox. They do not create an airtight seal, and are made completely of metal. While they will prevent some draft, over time these dampers will warp or rust, making them less efficient. While top sealing dampers are preferred, either of these options are better than having no damper at all.

2. Install a fireback

Another inexpensive way to increase your fireplace’s efficiency is to install a fireback. A radiant fireback is a cast iron plate designed to protect the firebox from damage. Decorative designs also add to your home’s décor.

The fireback absorbs heat from the fire and radiates it back into the room. A fireback prevents heat from being absorbed by the liner of the flue and gives your fire more bang for your buck.

3. Fireplace heaters

Fireplace heaters are another option to increase the efficiency of your fireplace. These are closed circuit heaters that take air from the room, circulate it through a chamber heated by the fire, and then release it back into the room as warm air. Since it is closed circuit, no smoke will be pouring into the room.

4. Fireplace Glass Doorsz-door

Making an investment in fireplace glass doors for a chimney offers another level of safety for your home by protecting pets and children from the flames, as well as increasing the efficiency of your fireplace. Installing these doors yourself can help save on some of the cost of purchasing them. If you have an open, wood burning fireplace, it is wise to make an investment in a mesh screen to protect carpet and family members from the burning embers that are frequently shot out of the firebox. Some of the most modern doors are crafted beautifully and can really add character and charm to any living room. Since the fireplace is using less inside air from combustion with the doors closed, the doors increase your fireplace’s efficiency.

5. Grate heaters

Grate heaters are another great option to increase your fireplace’s efficiency and can be used in conjunction with glass doors. Hollow tubing from grate heaters get hot from the fire and a fan blows this heat into the room. Some are controlled by thermostats, others are manually controlled. This is a relatively inexpensive way to help heat your home.

If you plan on heating your home with a fireplace, these small investments can increase the efficiency of your investment and save you money. Look into a few of these options, you’ll be amazed at the savings you’ll find!

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

How to Fix a Fireplace Smoking Problem !

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

There is nothing worse than spending time to get a fire roaring in your fireplace  . . . . only to have a room filled with smoke moments later. :-((

Smoking problems are a major complaint amongst many home owners. There are many different ways to go about fixing this problem, but you must have patience. Sometimes the answer is simple, other times it’s more complex.

 

The warm air should rise out of your chimney, including the smoke produced. If your flue system is not warm when lighting the fire then you can alter the ability of the fireplace to draw properly, creating potentially harmful smoking problems. A warm air siphon must be created before a fire can burn properly and draw correctly.

Tip #1: Crack a window

The quickest and easiest tip to creating a good draw for your chimney is to crack a window in the same room you are lighting the fire in. This will bring pressure into the room, causing air to be drawn up the chimney and allowing the smoke to move upwards and out, not into your living room.

Tip #2: Pre-heat with some newspapers

Pre-heating your flue system is another quick and easy tip to getting a roaring fire. Rolling up five or six newspapers and lighting them in the fireplace will help to warm up the flue and create a good siphon. This process may take five or ten minutes but can be critical to having a properly drawing fireplace. Also, make sure your damper is propped wide open or the smoke won’t be able to escape.

Tip #3: Install a Smoke-Guard

smokeguard
      BLACK, Smoke-Guard

If these quick fixes are still not helping your situation, you may need to look into some more expensive but effective solutions. One of the easiest of these is the Smoke-Guard. If your firebox is too big for your flue system, more smoke can accumulate in the firebox than can safely draft up the chimney. The excess smoke has nowhere to go but back out into your house. Install a Smoke-Guard, a strip of metal to decrease the size of the opening of your chimney can immediately solve smoking problems. This makes the ratio of the fireplace opening to the flue size more compatible.

Here’s how to tell if your fireplace opening is too large for your flue:

  1. Determine the area of your flue. If it is rectangular or square, multiply the flue’s length by its width. If it is a round flue, use the radius (half of the diameter.) Multiply 3.14 x radius x radius.
  2. Determine the area of your fireplace opening. Multiply the height of your fireplace opening by its width.
  3. Compare them. If the area of your fireplace opening is more than 10 times the area of your flue, your smoke problems may stem from your fireplace opening is too large for your flue. A smoke guard will effectively reduce the size of your fireplace opening.

Tip #4: Extend your chimney

If your chimney does not extend high enough above your roofline, or there are nearby trees or other flue systems, this can cause competition for proper drafting. Negative pressure can build up into a tightly sealed home very quickly, which means that the air pressure outside the home is greater than inside the home. If the chimney is not tall enough, air and smoke can easily enter the home to fill the discrepancy between the two pressures. Extending your chimney by a few feet can be costly but may be the only way solve a chimney smoke problem

Smoking Fireplace Problems

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

Chimney Odors . . . are big Problem!

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

creosote 3rd stage clogging cap2Chimney odor are a particularly nasty problem that can be increased by extremely wet or hot and humid weather.
A foul smell in your living room is an unpleasant but not unsolvable problem.
Home owners must realize that odor in your chimney is always present. But usually the draft created by the cold weather outside the flue and warm weather inside the home carries the odor up the chimney. This prevents it from entering the home. Odors will also increase when it is raining because moisture amplifies the odor. Much like a dog smells worse when it is wet. The porous brick will get wet and retain odor for a longer period of time.
The first, most obvious step in dealing with a smelly chimney would be to have your chimney cleaned. This removes as much of the odor causing creosote and soot as possible.

Creosote buildup2.jpg
Glazed creosote, however, causes a particular problem seeing as it is very difficult to remove and produces the worst odor due to its high moisture content. A chimney sweep can remove the surface build up of creosote, but the odors will remain absorbed into the masonry surface.
Installing a chimney cap will also help prevent odors from entering your home by keeping the interior of the chimney dry. It cannot, however, keep the humidity out. Many different deodorants are available on the market or through your chimney sweep company to combat the odors as well.

A quick fix may be to simply open a window in the room with the fireplace. If your chimney odor is being caused by air flow reversal, this opening of a window may allow the negative pressure in the home to be released, helping your chimney draft properly and vent normally, sending the odor out of the home.

Calling out a professional will help you in diagnosing what it is that’s causing your particular chimney odor problem. However, following these quick tips can usually cure most situations!

imgres-1You can find a reputable Chimney Sweep in your area by using this link to the National Chimney Sweep Guild locator : http://www.ncsg.org/search.  Also be sure and go online and read their customer reviews from Google, BBB and AngiesList. I’m never impressed with those cheaper “Swab and Rob companies

ALSO…

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

How To Remove Creosote and What is Creosote?

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)

Creosote
Looking up or down a chimney flue, you may see this: creosote glazing and scorch markings.

What is Creosote?

Creosote is a flammable and corrosive substance that can build up on the walls of your fireplace and chimney. Creosote forms when unburned wood particles, fly ash and other volatile gasses combine as they exit the chimney. If there’s a poor draft, these unburned particles and gasses can condense and build up on the walls of your chimney. Over time, these e or soot buildups can become a danger as they can potentially result in a chimney fire.

Causes of Chimney Creosote Problems

Smoke, or better termed, flue gas, releases by the initial fire, or primary combustion. Burning wood, no matter when releases pollutants in the form of gasses and particulate matter. Flue gas, comprised of steam and vaporized but unburned carbon based byproducts (vaporized accumulation). If smoke exiting the chimney is cools to below 250 degrees Fahrenheit, the gasses liquefy, combine, and solidify to form that tar compound. A flue too large for the woodburning appliance may increase the likelihood that creosote will build up. Restricted air supply, unseasoned or rain-logged wood, and cool surface flue temperatures also encourage creosote to build up.

Creosote Stages:

Condensation: In an attempt to save fuel, many people reduce the amount of air entering the combustion chamber, causing the appliance to smolder. This has serious side effects. Smoke then cools as it rises in the chimney, not having enough heat energy to escape the stack. The flue gas then condenses on the inside of the chimney and the sap/resin turns into creosote.

Creosote
This swollen creosote is very fragile and brittle. It can block the flue and cause tremendous smoking problems. Not uncommon if you’ve experienced a chimney fire.


Liquidation
: This sap/resin turns liquid and can seep into mortar joints or cracks in the flue tiles. The corrosive property held by creosote destroys masonry work and jeopardizes the life of your chimney.

Solidification: As temperatures fall and rise within the chimney, causing the heating and cooling of the creosote. This quickly enables build-up, reducing the amount of space the flue gas has to exit the chimney and, in extreme cases, blocking the flue completely. This build up can look like tar and is frequently termed “tar build-up.

Fragile State Creosote: When the solid creosote is burned, all volatile oils are removed leaving a residue that appears very similar to honeycomb which is crisp and easy to sweep from chimneys.

Creosote
Often creosote will accumulate at the top of the chimney over longer periods of being unattended to during the events.

Creosote Glazing

Glaze forms in the solidification stage and occurs when new layers of creosote build so quickly that the layers below it have no time to dry. These fresh layers then insulate previous deposits so it eventually solidifies creating the rock-like substance known as glaze.

 

 

 

 

How to Remove Creosote Glaze

To remove this hard-as-a-rock glaze, it must first be broken down chemically. The two best products to use To remove this hard as a rock glaze, it must firare Anti-Creo-Soot Liquid spray or ACS Powder. ACS in liquid form is a chimney creosote removal spray that can be applied directly onto the fire or used to pre-treat the wood before burning. The vapor goes up the flue and attaches to the glazed creosote and chemically modifies it. This converts it into a harmless ash that can easily be swept out with a chimney sweep brush. ACS in powder form is a little bit more powerful. This powdered chimney creosote remover is applied to the chimney walls and up the flue.

When you start a fire, the temperature needs to reach 300 degrees F. When this happens, the ACS Powder causes the creosote to expand and contract at a different rate than the flue it’s attaches to, causing it to pee
l away from the flue liner. Both of these products contain unique chemical catalysts that break down the creosote over time. They are the most powerful when used in combination. Use the ACS Powder for the first 2 weeks to break down the really heavy duty creosote. Then use the regular ACS liquid spray every time you have a fire. Give it 5-6 sprays each fire to reduce creosote buildup and keep your chimney creosote-free.

In conclusion, after you solve your creosote problem, it’s a good idea to check the rest of your chimney and make sure it’s in good shape. Keeping your bricks waterproofed and performing chimney crown repair if needed are essential steps to take to keep your chimney in proper repair.

After this, remember to check out our Youtube channel and other blogs!

Make sure you check out our YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/user/askthechimneysweep

And other blogs such as this one: https://www.askthechimneysweep.com/2015/12/creosote-odors-fireplace-problems/


Affiliate Disclosure

I NEVER recommend a product or service that I don’t personally use (and love) myself but just to be totally transparent you should know that some of the links on my site ARE affiliate links and I DO make a small commission from any sales that are made. Thanks for your support!

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Latest posts by Clay Lamb (see all)