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Causes of Unsafe Drafting

If you have a smoky fireplace it’s because there isn’t a proper draft in the chimney. The draft is what causes combustion byproducts from fires to exit the home through the chimney. Anytime your fireplace releases smoke into your home, it’s a health threat. Learn more below about the dangers of a smoky fireplace and common causes of unsafe drafting.

Dangers of a Smoky Fireplace

Various risks are associated with fireplaces and unsafe drafting is one of them. It’s dangerous to continue using a fireplace when smoke is entering the home. In a short span of time, inhaling wood smoke can give you a headache and cause irritation in your throat, eyes, sinuses, and lungs. In addition, it can aggravate existing lung problems and increase the risk of suffering a heart attack.

An immediate threat that occurs when the draft doesn’t work right is that occupants of the household can be exposed to deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, invisible, and symptomless. It’s essential to have working carbon monoxide alarms in the home to provide a warning about exposure. Without the alarm, people who are exposed to copious amounts of the deadly fumes are rarely able to escape and survive. 

Drafting Defined

Creating a draft that draws combustion fumes from fires out of a home is the purpose of chimneys. The basic principle that makes chimneys work is that hot air is less dense than cold air and, therefore, it rises and is safely expelled out of your home. When this doesn’t happen, it’s because there isn’t a proper draft.

Causes of Unsafe Drafting

Negative Air Pressure

In a variety of ways, atmospheric pressure in your home can negatively affect the draft in the chimney. It’s common these days for homes to be well sealed and airtight. A side effect of such a tight seal is that there may not be sufficient air in the home to ensure that fires have needed oxygen. Opening a window can provide a temporary fix. 

Using exhaust fans in the kitchen, bathroom, or attic can also limit the air available for fires to burn hot. A problem with weak fires that don’t burn very hot is that the smoke from the fires often isn’t hot enough to encourage a good draft that pulls combustion gases up through the chimney.

Stack Effect

The stack effect in the building envelope of a house can also create negative pressure that disrupts the chimney draft. Venting and performance of solid fuel-burning appliances are affected by the stack effect. In short, the stack effect is the way warm air in a home rises and cold air enters from outside to replace the air. Due to this phenomenon, a house could act more efficiently as a chimney than the chimney itself.

Chimney Obstruction

The chimney draft is also disrupted if there is an obstruction inside the flue. Blockage can be caused by debris is in the chimney and by excess creosote buildup that significantly narrows the flue opening.

Schedule a Chimney Inspection

If your chimney isn’t operating properly, contact the chimney sweep experts at Chimney Solutions. We care about your safety. All of our chimney technicians are trained and certified and have the experience needed to identify the cause of a poor draft. There are actually a few more reasons for an improper draft in addition to those stated above, such as a chimney stack that’s too short. Whatever your needs with regards to chimney maintenance and proper chimney operation, we can help. Schedule an appointment today by calling (770) 255-1300.

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