It is good practice to check if your damper is open before EVERY fire. Some dampers become loose and can close on their own. Sometimes a relative or child can close a damper without informing other members of the household. If you find a rusted, warped or worn damper when you check it – Call Mike’s Mobile! We have a replacement damper with an AIR-TIGHT seal that mounts on the TOP of your chimney. Old-style metal throat dampers can cost you over $200 a year in lost energy. Upgrading to a Lock-Top damper keeps air inside, so that no heat or air-conditioning gets lost up your chimney.
Professional chimney technicians identify potential chimney problems when they do cleanings and inspections. Some problems, however, are more easily diagnosed with the homeowner’s help since you can identify them as they have to do with particular burning situations when we might not be around. The following guide is written especially for homeowners who have issues with a smoking chimney.
Consult with this checklist to gain control of your smoking chimney. If you’re still having problems call Mike’s Mobile today and we can help!
Chimneys use a lot of air to fuel their fires. This air has to come from somewhere. Some houses are so air tight that a negative-pressure system can develop, ensuring that your fire will not draft properly. This problem can be made worse by other appliances competing for the same air (i.e. Range hoods, bathroom vents, clothes dryers, forced draft services.
Fortunately this problem is very easy to diagnose. If your chimney is beginning to smoke you can crack a nearby window or door and the draft should fix itself. Mike’s mobile can install an air vent for makeup air if this is your problem. These vents can be closed when not in use so energy is not wasted.
If your fireplace smokes or has draft issues when the wind blows it is usually because the chimney is too short (or too close to nearby structures) Don’t worry, you don’t have to replace the chimney. This can be corrected in a variety of ways; Mike’s Mobile has special wind blocking caps or flue extender caps that can fix this problem at a reasonable cost to you.
Although it’s a small piece of equipment, a fireplace grate should not be overlooked. Fireplace grates maintain consistent airflow around a fire which aids in complete combustion (a cleaner burning fire!). If your chimney tends to smoke towards the end of your burning season, you may be in need of a new fireplace grate. A fireplace grate also performs a variety of other important fire burning and safety functions.
Fire place grates are usually available seasonally at your local hardware store (be sure to get the correct size for your fire box opening) or, we carry a full selection of high quality grates all year around! To get the correct size grate, measure the smallest width of your fire box (usually the back).
If you’re having smoking issues you may have a cold chimney. Exterior masonry chimneys are known for giving homeowners fits. However, a little knowledge can go a long way. Exterior masonry chimneys collect moisture when not in use (GREAT reason to have a chimney cap!) and are often much colder than the rest of your house when starting a fire. If fireplace gasses cool off before the smoke exits the chimney, a draft is going to be weak or non-existent. It is important to get a good draft and a strong fire going right away. If this is an issues you are having you will notice that starting fires gets easier the more often you use your chimney since it dries out throughout the season.
Is your chimney clean or dirty? When was the last time you’ve had your chimney cleaned? If you burn often, your chimney should be cleaned after every cord of wood that is burned. Soot and creosote buildup can seriously affect the performance of your chimney. Birds, small animals, leaves, twigs, bees, etc are some of the things we see on a daily basis clogging up chimneys. Chimney caps help without outside debris, but there is no replacement for an annual chimney inspection or cleaning.
Think small when it comes to starting a fire. First be sure that your chimney is ready for a fire. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually. Once you have determined that you can safely burn a fire, you will need to prepare the fireplace. Make sure that your damper is completely open.
Pick small pieces of wood and make sure that the wood is not over flowing your fireplace grate. This will ensure that you have enough room between the fireplace and the grate on all sides.
Listen carefully. Sizzling is a sign that the wood that you are burning still has water. This will cause extra smoke that can enter into your living room area.
Pick out proper wood for burning fires. Make sure that your wood meets the following criteria:
- Seasoned Firewood (Excess Moisture Takes Energy Out of a Fire)
- Proper size (Pieces Must Not be Oversized or Hanging Out of Your Fireplace)
- Pieces may need to be cut to fit properly