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Problems With Draft in Your Chimney

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Draft problems

Your chimney was designed to pull smoke, gases and other byproducts of combustion up and out of your home, with the help of proper draft. That draft is created as the hotter, lighter air from your fire rises up and reacts with the heavier, cooler air outside. That’s the ideal. But a variety of issues can impede that draft, from poor design to flue damage to simple user error.

If your fire is hard to start or you have smoke filling up the living room, you have an issue with draft.

If your fire is hard to start or you have smoke filling up the living room, you have an issue with draft.

In most cases, you’ll realize that there’s a chimney draft issue because smoke is coming into your home. That’s unpleasant enough, but it also indicates the possibility that toxic carbon monoxide is getting into your living area, too. Homestead Chimney can correct all kinds of draft issues, whether that means simply helping you avoid user error or redesigning a poorly performing firebox to help encourage better draft.

Lots of different problems can lead to poor draft — these are just a few things we’ll look for:

Your Chimney Needs To Be Swept

Proper draft can’t occur in a blocked flue, so if you haven’t had your chimney swept recently, debris (animal nests, broken flue tiles) or creosote build-up might be creating your issue. We can sweep your flue and, if debris is your problem, install a chimney cap or top-sealing damper to keep nesting animals and falling debris out.

Your Appliance Isn’t Getting Enough Combustion Air

For gases to go up and out, combustion air needs to feed your fireplace. And our modern, energy-efficient doors and windows are great, but sometimes they work so well, your fireplace can’t get the air it needs. If opening a door or window solves your draft issue, that’s likely the culprit.

Your Flue Liner Has Cracks Or Gaps

Draft works kind of like a drinking straw, pulling contents upward. If you’ve ever tried to use a straw with a hole in it, you can imagine how your chimney works when the flue liner is damaged — that upward motion is hampered, in a big way. (And that’s just one of the problems that comes along with flue liner damage.) Homestead Chimney can check your flue liner for damage, and suggest the right fix, whether that’s repairing or replacing the liner.

Your Flue Isn’t Sized Correctly

To function correctly — and to produce proper draft — your flue needs to be sized according to your appliance. A too-large flue can let air cool down; a too-small flue can minimize flow. An improperly sized flue can sometimes be corrected with a new flue liner — Homestead Chimney technicians can tell you if this is your issue, and the most effective way to correct it.

Your Chimney Isn’t Tall Enough

A chimney, bottom to top, should be at least 15 feet tall, extending at least three feet above where it rises out of the roof. A shorter chimney results in weaker draft.

Wind Is Creating Downdraft Issues

Proper draft moves upward, but sometimes wind conditions outside can create what’s called a downdraft, pulling air in the wrong direction inside your chimney. If you’ve been noticing smoke and other draft issues when it’s windy out, a wind-induced downdraft might be your issue. In some cases, that can be corrected with a chimney cap that’s designed to prevent those downdrafts. Homestead Chimney technicians can tell you if that might be the right approach to help your chimney draft.

Smoke doesn’t always indicate a draft problem — if you’re using green or wet wood rather than seasoned cordwood, your fire will produce much more smoke, and even a chimney with proper draft may not be able to keep up. Let us know if you’re having trouble — we’ll figure out what’s happening in your chimney, what’s contributing to or causing draft issues, and suggest the best next steps.