Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

Why Can’t I Get A Fire Started???

Now that we are well into the winter season, the nights are getting longer and cooler. There’s nothing more relaxing after a hard day’s work than sitting in front of a cozy fire with a warm cup of cider. When you’re ready to unwind, you certainly don’t want to have trouble getting that fire started.


Why Can't I Get a Fire Started Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepOne of the most common problems when starting a fire is drafting. So, what does drafting mean? To properly explain this concept, it’s important to understand how your chimney works. According to The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), when a fire burns, the warm air that is produced is less dense than the cold air outside of the chimney. This causes the warm air to rise. The cool air in the room will then move into the firebox, which fans the fire and keeps it burning. This is a normal burn cycle.

A draft effect strong enough to overpower the normal burn cycle can occur if your home is leaking in air. If this is happening in your home, a quick fix is to seal things up as much as you can. You can keep windows closed and covered in plastic, and be sure your attic access door is tightly closed.

Other Reasons

CSIA also cites that fires need large amounts of air to burn correctly. The air replacing the drafted air leaving through the chimney has to come from somewhere. There will be little air that can replace the warm air being drawn up through the chimney if your home has been insulated or weather-stripped.  This can lead to a fire that burns low and sluggishly. One solution to this problem is to slightly open some windows on the windy side of the house. Be aware that carbon monoxide may build up in a tightly sealed home. Be sure to use the window opening as a very temporary fix and have experts in to help suggest permanent solutions.

Another problem similar to the drafting issue relates to the use of your chimney’s dampers. According to hearth.com, a damper is used when your fireplace isn’t burning to stop the cold air from reverse drafting. When you are building a fire, make sure that you have opened the damper so that the path is open for warm air and smoke to leave your home through the chimney.

Ask the Experts

Whatever the reasons for problems with your fire, there’s never a question of who can help out. The experts at Pozzi Chimney Sweep are qualified to answer any questions you may have. The awarded technicians have been recognized for the quality services they provide for a number of years. Give them a call for a great service experience, and answers to all your fire-burning questions.

Inside Your Chimney

A Look Around

It’s hot, it’s fiery, and in a moment it can have your whole house in danger.  Fireplaces and chimneys are made up of many parts that combine to make one functioning unit.  Whether you have masonry or a factory built fireplace, it is important to have a yearly chimney sweep and maintenance inspection.  Luckily, Pozzi Chimney Sweep is here for all of your fire safety questions.

There is a lot going on inside your chimney. All work together to maintain proper draft.

There is a lot going on inside your chimney. All work together to maintain proper draft.

A masonry fireplace is the more traditional unit, with the firebox that is built using individual brick and a brick chimney that sits on top of the roof.  These structures are massive and can weigh several tons.  They will last a long time and require little maintenance other than the suggested yearly inspection.  The prefabricated fireplaces are different in materials and looks.  They are built of metal and have more of a modern look.  Since they come in a set, you must install them this way to make sure you have no risks of being unsafe.  These units also require much more attention, and since they are made of metal they can damage easier.

Are you interested yet, because that’s just the outside of the chimney!  There are many other parts put together to make a working unit.  Chimney crowns are especially important because they protect from water damage.  When a chimney comes into contact with water, they can begin to mold or have mortar deterioration, causing the whole structure to weaken and your home to be in danger.  The flue and its liner should both be in top shape so that the exhaust gases are able to leave the home and reduce any kind of flammable debris from accumulating.  The smoke chamber is also important because it is the part that compresses byproduct of combustion into the smaller space to eliminate back draft.  Chimney dampers help with all parts of your home because they make sure you’re not losing energy when the fire is not burning.  If you ever experience a problem with any of the part in your chimney you should always call for help, because what may seem a small problem could potentially develop into a serious issue.

Air Quality Issues

Sure, you might enjoy the smell of a wood fire on a crisp fall evening—but that’s not a smell you should be experiencing inside your home from your fireplace. In fact, smelling smoke means not only that your chimney isn’t doing its job, but also that the air inside your home is being polluted and is hazardous to your health. We all spend a lot of time in our homes, and want to do what we can to reduce the amount of pollutants in the air. Let’s take a look at how we can eliminate your chimney from contributing to bad air.

If draft isn't happening properly, some air that should go up the chimney is coming into your home. This can cause breathing difficulties.

If draft isn’t happening properly, some air that should go up the chimney is coming into your home. This can cause breathing difficulties.

Smoke pollution, also called spillage, is when air gets pulled down through the chimney, instead of allowing the smoke to exit up. This pushes the smoke into the home. Even in small amounts, this can be dangerous. Elderly or children are especially susceptible to this kind of pollution—it can cause respiratory and cardiovascular issues, lung cancer, and can damage lung tissue.

There are a number of things that can cause spillage. An average fire consumes all the air that can fit into a 1200 square-foot space three times within 24 hours of operation. If your home isn’t properly ventilated, that fire is going to get the air from somewhere. There can also be issues with your flue size or the position of the fire grate. A smoke guards or exhaust fan is often a practical and effective solution to this problem.

Mold spores are another, more invisible foe, and your chimneys can often be the culprit. If there is moisture trapped inside the chimney it’s the perfect place for mold to grow—dark, damp and warm. It’s also responsible for a number of health problems, like sinus and respiratory problems, coughing, headaches, and eye and throat irritation. Having a chimney cap installed and waterproofing your chimney will rid it of moisture and help keep your air cleaner.

As you can see, keeping up with the regular maintenance of your chimney is a vital part of being a homeowner. Be sure to schedule an annual inspection and cleaning, so your chimney sweep can keep you one step ahead.