No one ever installs a fireplace expectating cold drafts coming out of the fireplace. How is that supposed to keep you warm?! Fireplaces are a source of warmth and pleasure… good times with friends and loved ones. People do not expect more heat lost going up the flue than out into the fireplace surround area (aka the hearth), yet that is a common problem with many fireplaces.
A down draft chimney issue is the second most common complaint of fireplace (chimney leaks are #1) but they should be tolerated. Cold air from your fireplace is controllable and with a little investigation, your hearth room could be cozy again.
What Causes a Drafty Fireplace?
When there isn’t a fire in the the fireplace, then the fireplace and chimney are just another opening to the out doors. Both indoor and cold outside air will flow in the direction of high-pressure moving to low-pressure.
If the room the fireplace resides in is below the neutral pressure plane, outdoor air will leak in (frequently past the fireplace/chimney damper) and will continue to do so until the pressure at the fireplace matches or exceeds that of the top of the chimney.
Things that influence the difference in pressure are:
- Wind direction (wind induced down draft)
- Height of the chimney
- Location of fireplace(s) in the home
- Temperature difference between the outdoors and inside the house
- What the chimney is used for (gas furnace flue or wood burning fireplace)
- How airtight the home is (at the level of the fireplace and the home above it)
By understanding what causes cold air coming through the fireplace you can better diagnose the cause and find a solution to your chilly hearth issue.
3 Easy Things to Try to Fix a Cold Air Problems
If we can control the air, we can control the cold that comes with it. A few things to try:
- Close the Damper
- Close Glass Doors
- Have a professional Install Fireplace Doors (Note: some units cannot have doors, consult your local Chimney Sweep or fireplace store.)
Although not pretty, a lair of plastic sheeting may help stop fireplace draft. Giving you time to find a solution.
Some homeowners are unaware of how the fireplace damper operates and would get some relief if it was operated proper and left in the close position when the fireplace was not in use. With a flashlight and safety goggles, look at your fireplace damper to see if it is in the closed position.
It’s important to Learn How to Know Your Damper is Open or Closed.
It’s important to Know whether your fireplaces damper is Open or Closed and how to check it. A Fireplace Damper that’s closed or left open makes all the difference when trying to stop fireplace drafts and prevent cold air from coming inside your home.
Do Fireplace Doors Stop Cold Drafts?
It seems logical… Since front doors stop drafts from the outside, won’t fireplace doors help prevent cold air from coming in from the chimney?
Fireplace glass doors are made to open and close at extreme variations in temperature. Regardless whether there is a fireplace heated to over 500º or it’s summer time, we want the doors to be flexible enough to always open and close. With this in mind, fireplace gas door manufacturers make their doors with loose fitting hardware.
If glass doors from a fireplace were as tight fitting as a front door, they may be difficult if not impossible to open and close when hot. Having said that, well made fireplace glass doors will (with a properly operating chimney damper) help minimize and control cold fireplace drafts.
Still Can’t Stop Down Draft?
Have no fear, your Full Service Chimney Professionals understand how fireplace and chimneys work and have 70 years of combined chimney repair experience. By first diagnosing the cause of your fireplace draft, we can propose solutions that will really help.
Often, the source of cold air coming from the fireplace isn’t an issue caused by the fireplace. Rather the home is under negative pressure and using the fireplace as it’s source of “makeup air”. If the home is desperate for replacement air being lost to the Stack Effect or inside air is being consumed for other needs, outside air will be forced past the damper and glass doors causing the unwanted drafty fireplace.
Want a More In-Depth Lesson on Fireplace Backdrafting and Chimney Downdrafting? We’ve got you covered.
Your Certified Chimney Sweep can determine the cause and issue. We offer solutions to stop fireplace draft in it’s tracks. It all begins with a phone call to one of our Certified Chimney Sweeps to get the ball rolling and the draft stopped.