A drafty chimney can cause much more than a rush of cold air through your home. In fact, some of the symptoms can be downright uncomfortable – and if they are left unchecked, they may even become dangerous. Learning more about the symptoms of a drafty chimney, and the best ways to fix it will keep you, your family, and your home safer and more comfortable throughout this year’s heating season.
The Symptoms of a Chimney Draft
The tell-tale symptom of a drafty chimney is a gust of cold air coming through the fireplace and across the floor in the absence of a fire. While this can be incredibly uncomfortable, it can also drive up your heating costs. This is not the only symptom, however. Others include:
- Difficulty starting a fire. If you seem to be struggling to light your fire despite well-seasoned wood, this points toward a drafty chimney.
- Smoke billowing into your home. Smoke from your fire is supposed to travel up the chimney and outside your home, but if it seems that the smoke is blowing out toward you, there’s a draft.
- Big puffs of smoke on windy days. If you notice that smoke blows out toward you when the wind is high, this is yet another sign of a drafty chimney.
- Very little heat. If the fire seems to be the right size, but you just are not feeling the heat, it is likely escaping through the draft rather than flowing into the room.
Chimney drafts can also be a bit misleading. If you experience these symptoms to any degree, even if the fire appears to burn normally after half an hour to an hour, there is still a draft that should be repaired. For a short time, the power of the draft will be stronger than that of the fire, which won’t allow the fire to grow and keeps smoke from entering the flue. Gradually, though, as the fire grows larger, it overtakes the draft – but the draft still exists.
Solving the Problem
There are many different issues that can cause a chimney draft and, ideally, you should call a professional for repairs if you experience any of the above symptoms. Otherwise, here are some other things that may solve the problem, depending on its cause.
- Open a window. Sometimes a draft can occur because there’s just not enough airflow through your home. If you notice that opening a window alleviates the problem, this is likely the cause – but opening a window should never be a permanent solution.
- Have the chimney cleaned. A blocked chimney can prevent smoke from escaping, and it can also be a fire hazard. The more often you use your fireplace, the more you should have it cleaned.
- Have the chimney inspected. Other things that may cause a significant draft include a chimney that is too small, too big, or too short. Each of these presents a unique set of circumstances that result in a draft. Consult with a professional for an inspection and potential solution.
- Have leaks repaired. Finally, a leaky chimney can also be the culprit, especially if that leak is in the lower half of the chimney. Repairing this should resolve the issue right away.
A drafty chimney can certainly be problematic. It can make it hard to start fires, it can cause your house to fill with smoke, and it could even increase the risk of a dangerous chimney or house fire. The best way to resolve draft issues is to call a professional to inspect, clean, and diagnose the issue, then provide the appropriate repairs.