Homeowners tend to assume that all fireplaces are equal and perform about the same. This, however, is not the case. Some fireplaces are spectacularly efficient and effective while with others you have to constantly poke and prod things to get them going or keep them going. In some cases the reasons for this inefficient performance are structural, in some cases material and in some cases it’s just because the homeowner has overlooked something. Below we’re going to outline 5 reasons your fireplace may not be performing the way you expect it to.
Reasons Why Your Fireplace May be Struggling
People have a reasonable expectation that a fireplace is going to work properly. Unfortunately, sometimes in the depths of winter in Piedmont or Rapid City, SD homeowners try to get a fire going and produce more smoke than heat. What could be going on? Here are 5 things that could cause efficiency to suffer.
- Critters- If things worked fine last winter but this year there doesn’t seem to be any draft there’s a good chance you’ve got uninvited visitors. Raccoons are the most likely culprits. They look at a chimney and think “What’s not to like? It’s warm. It’s safe and it’s available for immediate occupancy.” There are plenty of folks in Piedmont, SD that specialize in removing raccoons from chimneys. Once they’re evicted make sure you have L&M look for any other potential obstructions and then install a chimney cap to keep the raccoons out.
- The Vacuum Seal Blues - Advances in window and door design have produced products that seal your home like a vacuum against the elements and that’s great for keeping drafts out and energy bills low. However, it’s not great for your chimney. Your chimney is built to pull air from the house to fuel the fire. If the house is sealed up like Tupperware the fire may not be able to pull enough air from the house to continue burning. If you recently upgraded your windows and now you’re not able to get a fire going the windows may be the cause. Try cracking one just a bit before you start the fire and see if that works. If it does talk to L&M fireplace repair about installing a more long term solution like an air resupply ventilator.
- The Closed Damper - Sometimes the inability to get a fire going comes down to the simplest things. For instance the damper. If the damper is closed or only slightly open there won’t be enough draft to keep the fire going. When everything has cooled down point a flashlight up the chimney to see if the damper is closed. If you have a top sealing damper all you need to do is pull the chain hanging down to open it. If you have a more traditional damper there should be a handle located partway up the chimney that you simply push or pull to open the damper. If you’re having trouble getting it open call L&M fireplace service.
- Ye Olde Cold Chimney Syndrome - If you have a chimney on an exterior wall the Rapid City, SD winter may be cooling the air inside it so much that a pool of cold air has formed that is blocking warm air from rising. Thus your fire can’t take hold. To cure cold chimney syndrome take a hair dryer, set it on high and point it up the chimney toward the damper. Run it on high for about 20 to 30 seconds and then try starting the fire. Alternately, you can roll up a section of newspaper and use it as a torch. Roll it up, lite the end and hold it up inside the chimney for 10 or 20 seconds, then drop it on the wood before the flames reach your hand. And be careful.
- Size Matters - Most homeowners think the dimensions of a chimney are just sort of randomly assigned. You know, whatever looks good. In fact, a chimney should be at least 10 feet tall and extend at least 3 feet clear of the roof in order to produce sufficient draft. If your chimney was built without taking these fundamental rules into consideration you’ll probably have trouble getting or keeping a fire going. Sometimes fireplace repair is called for in the form of a flue extender to create the requisite draft. Other times an exhaust fan may need to be installed to get things moving in the right direction.
If you’re having chimney problems in Rapid City or Piedmont, SD, call L&M. We’re the area’s most trusted fireplace service pros and we’ll things humming along nicely in no time. Don’t freeze on those brutally cold nights, call L&M and set things right. First class fireplace repair service is just a phone call away.