Company Blog

Fireplace Troubleshooting

A fireplace adds a certain ambiance that no other addition to the home does. The crackling warmth and the dancing flames – this mystical allure draws in people of all types and ages. Everyone loves a good fireplace, but when it starts causing frustrating problems, some homeowners would sooner forget it even exists! Before walling over your fireplace though, consider some basic troubleshooting ideas that may be behind the dysfunction.

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Often, the most troubling problems have the simplest solutions. For example, the fire may extinguish quickly or send smoke into the house just because the damper has not opened correctly. Prior to lighting the fire, glance up the chimney with the damper open to make sure it has actually opened. When open, you should have a view of the entire flue. If all you see is darkness or mostly darkness, the damper has not opened properly. When jiggling the handle or turning it the opposite direction does not open the damper, call out a chimney expert to check the condition of it before lighting any more fires.

Another problem that may lead to a nonexistent, weak, or smoky fire is burning wet wood. This only applies to wood burning fireplaces, but it can be a serious problem. Firewood needs to season, or sit uncovered in a dry area, for one to two years prior to burning. Unseasoned wood usually has high water content, so most of the fire’s energy goes toward boiling the water away instead of making flames and heat. For this reason, wet wood often produces weak and smoky fires, if it even lights at all.

When these two issues have been solved or eliminated and the fireplace is still causing problems, there may be a draft problem in the house. Imagine hot air from the fire constantly moving up and out the chimney. This air comes from inside the house and it must be replaced in some way in order for the fire to continue burning properly. Sometimes the air cannot be replaced, which can be due to an overly airtight house – a common problem in newer construction. Fixing this might involve opening a window while burning or having an outside air vent installed.

A problematic draft can result from a variety of issues besides having an airtight home. For instance, an obstruction in the chimney could be blocking proper air flow. Possible obstructions include built up soot or creosote that needs to be cleaned or even an animal nesting inside the flue. The simple fix for this is to have the chimney swept at least once per year as required by fire codes. Another issue involves the structure of the chimney itself. The chimney may be too short or it may be too wide for a newer fireplace insert. Both of these situations can lead to weak and smoky fires. Have an annual chimney inspection along with a sweep to determine if this is the problem.

For more information on possible fireplace issues and to schedule a sweep and inspection in the Hudson Valley area, contact All Seasons Chimney.

Dealing With a Stinky Fireplace

Help! My Fireplace Stinks!

When the weather gets warmer, you may notice a stinky odor coming from your fireplace and wonder what in the world has caused this unpleasant smell. Several things could be the culprit, and in these situations, you should call a professional chimney company like All Seasons Chimney. Our trained and certified chimney sweeps know exactly what to look for, and sometimes the source of the stinky odor can be hazardous, so it is best to allow the professionals to check out your smelly fireplace. To give you an idea of what the possible causes of what is making your fireplace stink, we would like to share with you the top three causes.

Are you wondering why there is a foul smell coming from your fireplace? We have a good idea where to start.

Are you wondering why there is a foul smell coming from your fireplace? We have a good idea where to start.

  • CREOSOTE The top cause of a smelly chimney, creosote is a naturally-formed compound that sticks to the walls of your chimney as a result of the condensation that occurs when the by-products of combustion like smoke, gases, water vapors, tar fog, and other minerals exit the cooler, upper walls of your chimney. Differing in appearance, creosote can be brown or black, and it can be shiny and hard, sticky and tar-like, or crusty and flaky. Over the fireplace season, creosote deposits can build up and become hazardous, becoming the top cause of chimney fires, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Additionally, when the temperatures outside rise, the creosote deposits also begin to emit a foul odor, so strongly it reaches inside your house. The solution to this problem is simple: have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually by a CSIA-certified company like All Seasons Chimney. We remove all creosote deposits from your chimney during our sweeping, and we can help you to prevent the creosote-friendly atmosphere a chimney that needs repairing has.
  • DRAFTING PROBLEMS If your fireplace smells smoky, you may have a problem with your drafting system. These problems can be caused by blockages in your chimney, including creosote deposits. What occurs when you have drafting issues is the smoky air trying to be pushed out of your fireplace cannot fully escape, and the smoky and stinky air is pushed back into your house. You will know for sure if your stinky fireplace problem has to do with drafting because if you light a fire in it, your room will fill with smoke. Again, an annual chimney sweeping and inspection from All Seasons Chimney can solve this problem as well.
  • MOLD If you have a leaky chimney, chances are mold could be the cause of your stinky chimney, and you will know by the distinctive musty smell of mold if this is your problem. Other signs of chimney mold include stains on the exterior of your hearth or the ceilings and walls around your fireplace. If mold is the suspected cause, call All Seasons Chimney immediately to schedule a consultation. Mold can be a serious issue and affect the health of you and your family, so it is urgent you seek the help of our experienced chimney sweeps.

If your fireplace stinks, contact All Seasons Chimney today to schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection. A smelly chimney is never a good sign.