You came home from work looking forward to the comfort of a glowing fire or you woke up expecting to enjoy your morning coffee sitting by the fireplace ? But instead, nothing is working and you're growing upset ! For some reason, your gas fireplace won't ignite or your wood burning fireplace is producing more smoke than flames. In this first part of this 2 articles series, we will discuss 5 reasons explaining why you may be having trouble with your beautiful fireplace.
Your Firewood is too Green or not seasoned
Wood that is too green or damped from being stored in a humid location outside is challenging to ignite and even, when it catches fire, it will produces more smoke than heat. For a wood fireplace to function properly your fire needs to create enough heat to push the smoke up the chimney. Seek out some dry (less than 20% relative humidity), seasoned cord wood to get a good blaze going. To make sure your wood is dry enough to be burnt efficiently, you might want to get a moisture meter. That device will get you the humidity content of a log within a second !
Your Pilot Light is Out
If you have a gas fireplace that isn’t working, it may be that the pilot light is out. The wind or a sudden downdraft can blow out a pilot light. If your gas fireplace won’t turn on because the pilot light is out you can turn it back on. In most cases, you can light it by repeatedly pressing the red button on your fireplace for about a minute after turning the control knob in a counter-clockwise direction toward the Pilot position. For specific instructions about relighting the pilot for your model, you can also check your owner’s manual.
Your Chimney Damper is Closed
When a wood fireplace damper is closed it will make sure that heat will not escape up in the chimney when you are not having a fire. But it will also block the smoke from escaping if you're starting a fire. Be sure to check that it is open before lighting a fire. If you have opened it but it does not seem to be functioning properly, call a professional chimney sweep. Water damage and soot buildup can prevent a damper from opening properly.
Your Chimney is Clogged or Blocked
Overtime, chimneys accumulate soot and creosote (a flammable crust or liquid that is a by-product of burning wood). Thick layers can prevent your chimney from venting properly. Even a ¼ to ½ inch of buildup along the walls of your chimney can dramatically affect the function of your chimney. In a masonry chimney a ½ inch of buildup will reduce the airflow by approximately 17% and, in a built chimney it will constrict airflow by approximately 30%.
Chimney blockages can also be caused by leaves, twigs, animal nests and collapsing brickwork. In many cases, a clogged chimney is the cause of a smoking fire. Investing in a chimney cap will prevent your flue from getting blocked.
Your Chimney is Too Cold
A fire will not light well if a chimney is too cold. If your chimney is on the outside of your house instead of in the middle, it will likely have a column of cold air in it when you first open the damper. You will be able to tell if you feel a good deal of cold air coming into your house through the fireplace. To successfully light a fire in your wood-burning fireplace, you must warm up its flue. The most effective way to do this is by first opening a window near the fireplace. Next, pour a cup of fire-lighting gel on the firebox floor and light it with a match. You may repeat this step until you get a reversed airstream, that is until you do not feel cold air in the fireplace. Be careful not to burn yourself.
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