Solutions for Your Fireplace on Windy Days

Whether you burn wood or have a gas fireplace, you may experience occasional problems when it’s windy outside. It might be difficulty starting a fire, smoke backing up in the house or just hearing the wind blowing in the chimney or vent pipe. So, what’s going on? How do these problems occur? Most importantly, what can be done to solve these issues?

WIND ISSUES

Whether it’s the sound of the wind blowing across the top of your chimney, or the wind pushing air down your chimney, you could be in for a variety of interesting scenarios. Luckily, this is usually a quick fix and you may have a few different possible solutions.

If you plan on using your fireplace much, a lock-top sealing damper may be a better option for you. A lock-top sealing damper is basically a spring-loaded cap installed on the top of the chimney. A cable is routed down the chimney and into the firebox. Moving the handle on the cable, opens or closes the chimney flue. These are quite effective at thoroughly sealing up the flue and preventing the loss of warm air when the fireplace is not in use. If your damper is shot and you’re wondering about a fix, this is often the best alternative. Installation can be a bit tricky. It’s a project that’s probably best left to the professionals at your local WE LOVE FIRE® shop.

Another option may be a specialized cap. Wind directional caps, called chimney cowls, are designed to rotate to ensure there is no chimney downdraft when windy.  Another cap, sometimes referred to as a hat design, is made to rotate with the action of the wind. The idea here is that the stronger the wind blows, the more the blades rotate and assist the draft in moving up and out the chimney.

All chimney caps for wood burning fireplaces and stoves, regardless of their design, are designed to keep out rain, snow and small critters. They should be made of stainless steel.

If your house is under construction or you are in the process of redoing your chimney, check out this great article by the Aprovecho Research Center about chimney designs for windy areas.

WOOD FIREPLACES

Back drafts and down drafts in wood burning chimneys can be tricky and at times, difficult to diagnose. A poor draft is a recipe for problems, starting with smoke backing up into the house.

There may be several reasons why you have a difficult time getting a fire going in your wood burning appliance. The most common reasons are a poor wood supply and drafting issues. A dirty, blocked or cold chimney is frequently the cause. Another possibility is a chimney not in compliance with code standards.

Sustained high winds or strong wind gusts can cause back drafts, that is the wind moving air backwards or down the chimney, instead of the draft moving the smoke up and out of the chimney. Don’t get wind gusts confused with negative air pressure. A high gust of wind from a certain direction may cause a periodic downdraft. But a negative air pressure condition will draw a constant stream of cold outside air spilling into the room.

Solutions for Your Fireplace on Windy Days - Wood Fireplace Ambiance Flair

Wood Fireplace Ambiance Flair

GAS FIREPLACES

Occasionally, high wind gusts can make it difficult for gas fireplaces to ignite. In extreme cases, the pilot light may have difficulty lighting or staying lit. In situations like this, when it’s been determined that it is a wind issue, a shield can be installed on the termination cap to help block high winds. These wind guards protect the termination cap of the venting system by preventing the cap from getting pummeled by the wind. With the prevailing winter winds from the west and north and if your fireplace or stove is vented out a west or north sidewall of the house, it’s a very good idea to have a wind guard or shield installed on the cap.

Solutions For Your Fireplace On Windy Days - Gas Fireplace Napoleon

Gas Fireplace Napoleon

LIKE THE SCOUTS SAY: BE PREPARED!

There are many variables to keep in mind when evaluating a fireplace’s performance in cold and windy conditions. It can be a complicated matter. If you have had some problems described above and are wondering about a proper fix, or what might be right for you, please contact your nearby WE LOVE FIRE® expert. Their expertise and experience will go a long way in helping you be prepared. We have a hunch you’ll actually look forward to that next blustery winter night!

Below is a list of fireplace and grill stores that service Virginia (VA)

Manassas, VA

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109

Mechanicsville, VA

Hearth & Home Shoppe
8151 Mechanicsville Tpk
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

Hearth & Home Shoppe LogoVisit Store Page

Roanoke, VA

Dixie Building Products Inc.
3342 Melrose Ave NW
Roanoke, VA 24017


For more information, contact your local fireplace and grill store..

10 Responses

  1. Robert
    Very helpful information, you help me on the way to fixing my wood fired oven. I am having back drafting. My chimney may not be high enough. Thanks.??
    • Dominique Page
      Good to hear!
  2. Robert
    Hello, I am looking for a "fireplace screen" that I can use in the Summer when I want the windows open and the pilot light in the fireplace to stay lit. 4 feet wide and 3'3-4" tall. Really I don't want a screen per se as that would not sure the purpose. I want something to block the wind from my window say 12-14 feet away. You see I don't want to "kill" my pilot for the Summer. Any suggestions? Thank you, Rob K.
    • Dominique Page
      Hello Robert Thanks for reaching out. Have you considered glass doors? They can be 'closed' while you do not use your fireplace and, then you open them when your fire turns on...take a look at this article.
  3. Brenda
    Our gas fireplace on our lake house sounds like popcorn popper on windy days. Our fireplace has no problem lighting or staying lit, just noisy. Any solutions?
    • Dominique Page
      Hi Brenda Thanks for reaching out. I strongly suggest to bring in a technician. Your fireplace needs service. This noise is not normal.
  4. […] a lot of air is entering your gas fireplace and blowing out the flames. In that case, installing a wind guard is the best […]
  5. Jim
    I have a gas fireplace that is vented through a wall. The wind consistently blows the pilot light out. Is there a replacement vent cap suitable for this installation that will block the wind? Or is there a shield that can be added to the firebox that will protect the pilot light from the wind?
  6. Our gas fireplace is absolutely wonderful except when the wind is blowing outside. The pilot light clicks out. I can light it again and it will stay lit, until I turn on the flame - then it all goes down again. Once the wind calms, everything works just fine again. Our home was built in 1994.
  7. I have a propane fireplace direct venting on a west wall. We experience strong winds from the west causing back pressure in the venting causing the valve to close and the fireplace and pilot light to go out. Would the sidewall venting cap and piping available from Grainger, model #2c448 be the proper fit for this circumstance?
    • Dominique Page
      Hi John Thanks for reaching out. Grainger are not approved to be used with gas fireplaces. If you have your owner's manual for the fireplace, it will list the companies that are approved to be used. It might be best to go to the local fireplace store and have them install a high wind cap for you. Dominique

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