How to Fix Chimney Draft Problems

Dealing with a drafty stove, but don't want to call a chimney sweep? Read these tips for analyzing and solving your woes.


| January/February 1986



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Follow these tips to pinpoint and solve problems with a drafty chimney.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Does your woodstove have the hiccups? Does your house smell of smoke much of the time? Do you have a heck of a time getting a fire started? If you have one (or all) of these problems, don't blame the heater. Your chimney is the most likely culprit.

There are actually two distinct (though related) factors affecting chimney performance: draft and capacity. Draft is the force behind flow, while capacity is the capability to handle flow. In most cases, more draft will equal more flow, but it's conceivable that you could have lots of draft but inadequate capacity if the diameter of your chimney is very small. The important thing to remember is that you'll get nowhere if you go after the wrong problem.

The object of this article is to help you diagnose and solve chimney problems related to airtight wood-burning heaters — without worrying too much about the physics of chimneys. (Open appliances, such as Franklin stoves and fireplaces, are separate matters.) Just pick out the symptoms you're suffering from on the list that follows, move on to the numbered problems included with your symptom and then proceed to the lettered solutiona mentioned with each problem.

Symptoms of a Drafty Chimney

Fire is reluctant to start and smoke spills into room at start-up. Some chimneys perform adequately only after the first 30 to 60 minutes of burning. See problems No. 2, 5, 6 and 7.

Stove back puffs powerfully on windy days. If this is the only time you have chimney draft problems, see problem No. 8.

Smoke spills to some degree under all conditions. If there is periodic (or even consistent) smoke spillage under almost any burn condition, see problems No. 1 through 7.





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