1798 E. State Road 18 Brookston, Indiana 47923

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There must be at least 100 reasons why your fireplace may not function properly. We will try to cover some of the basics. This is a very simplified list of the more common reasons that fireplaces don't work. For a true understanding of fireplaces consider hiring Certified Sweeps Chimney Professionals.

1) Is your damper fully open?
Everybody eventually forgets to open the damper. Many dampers also cease to fully open because of water damage or soot buildup behind them on the smoke shelf. A good professional cleaning can usually solve this problem.

2) Is your firewood green or wet from rain or snow?
Remember the main reason your fireplace works at all is the heat inside the chimney. If your wood is not dry and well seasoned it makes more smoke than heat and there simply may not be enough heat for the chimney to work properly.

3) Is your chimney dirty?
The gradual accumulation of soot can seriously affect the way your chimney performs. Thick layers of soot of course can physically restrict the flue so there is no longer enough free area to vent the fireplace properly, but as little as a 1/4" to 1/2" inch buildup can make more difference than you might think. Consider that a 1/2" buildup will restrict the air flow by 17% for a typical masonry fireplace chimney. Birds and small animals also think your chimney looks like a hollow tree in which to set up housekeeping. Sweeps often find chimneys literally packed full of leaves, twigs and baby animals.
 
4) Is your chimney tall enough?
To function properly, the chimney should be at least 10 or 12 feet in overall height. Where it projects above the roof, the chimney should be at least 3 feet tall, and at least 2 feet higher than anything within 10 feet of it-including other buildings, trees, etc. If your fireplace smokes because your chimney is too short, the problem is usually worse when the wind blows.

5) Is your flue large enough for the fireplace opening?
There are many variables that can affect this including; overall chimney height, how warm the flue stays, throat configuration, etc., but the basic rule of thumb here is that the area of the fireplace opening can be no more than 10 times the area of the flue (12 times for round flues). An undersized flue simply can't handle the volume of smoke produced, and some of it will spill back into the room. Since there is no practical way to make the flue size larger, the solution may be to make the room opening smaller with metal smoke guards or some creative masonry work. In fact there are now some premanfactured refractory firebox retrofits that work well with a 15 to 1 ratio and deliver twice the heat of conventional fireboxes.

6) Is your chimney on the outside of the house?
Remember, warm rising air is the basic engine involved here. If you have a large masonry chimney on the outside of the house, and its cold outside, the air inside of the chimney will also be very cold, and it will want to fall down the chimney instead of rising. These chimneys may be hard to start and they may smoke as the fire burns low. To help get the fire started many people light some rolled up newspaper and hold it up near the damper. Keeping a moderate sized but bright, actively flaming fire can also help this situation.

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Certified Sweeps Chimney Professionals
1798 E. State Road 18
Brookston, IN 47923

LAN: 765.563.3826
Mobile: 765.426.4163