Toledo Talk

Fireplace Warning

Originally this post was titled "Fireplace Problem". The short of it is that the smoke from the fireplace is not going up the chimney as it should, but is filling the house beyond capacity (as it should not).

I tried almost everything, then started this post to the all-knowing, elite cadre of Toledo Talk. In the midst of my diatribe about fireplaces and chimney sweeps, I paused to listen to myself.

More smoke is coming into the room than is going up the chimney.

Like it would if the damper fell shut. Which is what happened.

Just how the thrice damned damper fell shut is beyond me, but that's what happened. So, to avoid shooting yourself in the foot, check the state of the damper.

created by madjack on Jan 22, 2014 at 05:45:35 pm     Home     Comments: 16

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Comments ... #

Might I suggest gravity, my good sir.

"Sip"

Giggle.

"Sip"

Cheers!

posted by justread on Jan 22, 2014 at 06:18:13 pm     #   1 person liked this

OK, madjack, but what about this:

Chimney was just swept yesterday, fireplace is spotless. Started a fire tonight, and as the fire got going, the smoke didn't go up the chimney like it should. Some did, but it was slow like a stopped sink drain, with a lot of smoke coming out into the room. Checked the damper, it was wide open. The smoke was also thicker and darker than normal, for reasons unknown to me (was using the same types of kindling and wood as I always do, and in the same amounts as normal). Went outside, smoke was coming out of the chimney. Just to be safe, I got the fire extinguishers ready, not sure what was happening next.

Eventually, the problem corrected itself, and it is working fine now...as the fire got bigger, the increased draft got things going up faster. But it really had me scratching my head.

Any thoughts?

posted by Sohio on Jan 22, 2014 at 07:42:07 pm     #  

Probably cold flue wasn't venting up with enough draw.

Sometimes kicking on the furnace helps, as forced air creates positive ventilation pressure in most homes. It helps for me.
Plus, I use firestarter blocks and let them flame a while before I put wood on. That helps too. Haven't had that problem since I started doing that.

posted by justread on Jan 22, 2014 at 07:49:17 pm     #   2 people liked this

Low temp weather I have used some rolled up newsprint (day of old) lit it and held it high as possible to heat the air before igniting kindling. Acted like a primer.

posted by Mariner on Jan 22, 2014 at 11:40:07 pm     #   1 person liked this

^^^Yes, this is exactly what we used to have to do in cold weather - pre-heat the flue to get the smoke drawing upward. Of course, that was back in the Stone Age when we lived in properties with a fireplace.

posted by Foodie on Jan 23, 2014 at 10:10:07 am     #  

justread posted at 05:18:13 PM on Jan 22, 2014:

Might I suggest gravity, my good sir.

"Sip"

Giggle.

"Sip"

Cheers!

Gravity? What do you mean, gravity? What's that got to do with it?

posted by madjack on Jan 23, 2014 at 02:24:48 pm     #  

Sohio posted at 06:42:07 PM on Jan 22, 2014:

OK, madjack, but what about this:

Chimney was just swept yesterday, fireplace is spotless. Started a fire tonight, and as the fire got going, the smoke didn't go up the chimney like it should. Some did, but it was slow like a stopped sink drain, with a lot of smoke coming out into the room. Checked the damper, it was wide open. The smoke was also thicker and darker than normal, for reasons unknown to me (was using the same types of kindling and wood as I always do, and in the same amounts as normal). Went outside, smoke was coming out of the chimney. Just to be safe, I got the fire extinguishers ready, not sure what was happening next.

Eventually, the problem corrected itself, and it is working fine now...as the fire got bigger, the increased draft got things going up faster. But it really had me scratching my head.

Any thoughts?

Yes, I have a few thoughts. They all involve a glass, ice and two fingers of my favorite beverage.

The deal here is that you have to start the draft moving up the chimney. Take the local bird cage liner, spread it out on the floor and roll it up lengthwise into a tube. Tear one end into a few shreds to facilitate lighting, fold the other end into a sort of handle then light the paper and put it up into the chimney above the fireplace. The blast of heat from the burning paper will start the draft going up, and the smoke from the fireplace will follow. When your fingers feel uncomfortably warm, drop the paper into the fireplace.

Fire starter logs are the way to go. They get the fire going right away.

posted by madjack on Jan 23, 2014 at 02:31:54 pm     #   1 person liked this

Fire starter logs are the way to go. They get the fire going right away.

without much smoke.

posted by justread on Jan 23, 2014 at 03:02:01 pm     #  

Except for some of us old fashioned,cheap, do-it-yourself son-of-a-bitches who prefer the invested dollars go toward a fine single malt scotch enjoyed whence the fire is ablaze.

posted by Mariner on Jan 23, 2014 at 05:30:15 pm     #   1 person liked this

So I'm brushing my chops tonight and I suddenly realize that my chops brush tastes like smoke. No, I'm not kidding, and no, I haven't been drinking to excess. There is the faint but distinct wood smoked flavor trying to blend in with the toothpaste.

Sometimes I think I don't live right.

posted by madjack on Jan 24, 2014 at 01:15:48 am     #  

Put some hickory chips in the fire. Might improve your quality of life.

posted by Mariner on Jan 24, 2014 at 06:26:46 am     #  

madjack posted at 01:31:54 PM on Jan 23, 2014:
Sohio posted at 06:42:07 PM on Jan 22, 2014:

OK, madjack, but what about this:

Chimney was just swept yesterday, fireplace is spotless. Started a fire tonight, and as the fire got going, the smoke didn't go up the chimney like it should. Some did, but it was slow like a stopped sink drain, with a lot of smoke coming out into the room. Checked the damper, it was wide open. The smoke was also thicker and darker than normal, for reasons unknown to me (was using the same types of kindling and wood as I always do, and in the same amounts as normal). Went outside, smoke was coming out of the chimney. Just to be safe, I got the fire extinguishers ready, not sure what was happening next.

Eventually, the problem corrected itself, and it is working fine now...as the fire got bigger, the increased draft got things going up faster. But it really had me scratching my head.

Any thoughts?

Yes, I have a few thoughts. They all involve a glass, ice and two fingers of my favorite beverage.

The deal here is that you have to start the draft moving up the chimney. Take the local bird cage liner, spread it out on the floor and roll it up lengthwise into a tube. Tear one end into a few shreds to facilitate lighting, fold the other end into a sort of handle then light the paper and put it up into the chimney above the fireplace. The blast of heat from the burning paper will start the draft going up, and the smoke from the fireplace will follow. When your fingers feel uncomfortably warm, drop the paper into the fireplace.

Fire starter logs are the way to go. They get the fire going right away.

Makes sense. Just caught me off guard; I've been in this house my whole life and lived in it exclusively for three years (it was my grandparents' house) with the same fireplace, and never had to do that. I'll keep it in mind in the future.

posted by Sohio on Jan 24, 2014 at 12:49:26 pm     #  

Mariner posted at 05:26:46 AM on Jan 24, 2014:

Put some hickory chips in the fire. Might improve your quality of life.

I'll give you hickory chips... I was out shopping for clothes today, and the lady at the register asked me if I had a fireplace.

"You smell like smoke, but I like that. If you were 40 years younger, 150 pounds lighter and a whole lot better looking, I might go out with you. If you had any money, that is."

I don't live right.

posted by madjack on Jan 24, 2014 at 02:28:39 pm     #  

You live fine.

You don't want anything to do with a woman who says this like that to strangers in her checkout line. Believe me.

posted by Sohio on Jan 24, 2014 at 03:56:20 pm     #  

Sohio posted at 02:56:20 PM on Jan 24, 2014:

You live fine.

You don't want anything to do with a woman who says this like that to strangers in her checkout line. Believe me.

True.
She works in retail.

posted by justread on Jan 24, 2014 at 04:40:02 pm     #  

Pay no mind madjack. I appreciate your humor. In fact I may have met the very same woman before.

posted by Mariner on Jan 24, 2014 at 04:57:38 pm     #