A chimney allows you to burn wood in your fireplace safely. Resulting smoke drifts upward naturally where a flue guides it to escape out of your house and into the atmosphere. This ensures your home stays clean, healthy, and comfortable.
But what happens if your chimney does not function properly? Sometimes, air can travel downward in your chimney. This pushes smoke back toward the fireplace where it can travel into your home. This phenomenon is known as a downdraft.
A functioning fireplace heats the surrounding air, which encourages the smoke it produces to move up and out of the chimney flue, even as the air weighted with ash would allegedly sink downward due to gravity. So a downdraft will mean that something is wrong with the chimney. Read on to learn more about this issue and how to fix it.
Signs of a Downdraft in Your Chimney
Sometimes a downdraft comes with noticeable warning signs. You might see smoke starting to enter the room as you burn wood in your fireplace rather than escaping through the chimney as it normally would.
But a downdraft does not always have such visible effects. You might see more subtle clues of a downdraft, including soot starting to build up like dark-colored dust around your home.
A downdraft might also set off your smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, so make sure these safety features function properly. Smoke inhalation can create bodily symptoms in you or other residents of your home. Respiratory problems or irritation in the eyes and throat could mean you breathe more smoke from your fire than you should.
Causes of Chimney Downdrafts
A chimney downdraft can develop for a number of reasons. Structural concerns like a short chimney or a broken element within your chimney might disrupt airflow to allow smoke to exit properly.
An exterior blockage, like tree branches extending too close to the top of your chimney, might also cause a downdraft. Sometimes wind might temporarily impact how smoke flows out of your chimney. Schedule a chimney inspection with a local expert to determine the precise cause of this issue.
How to Prevent Downdrafts
The best way to avoid a downdraft in your chimney is to install a damper. A chimney damper is a device within the flue or toward the top of the chimney that can open and shut. Opening the damper allows smoke to exit properly. But you must close it when not using your fireplace to keep external air from flowing back down the flue and affecting your home.
This fixture can control pressure within your flue, which will minimize airflow concerns. Regular chimney cleaning will also keep your flue and fireplace running smoothly with minimal problems.
Hire a Chimney Expert to Fix a Downdraft
If you notice a persistent downdraft that does not seem to go away by using your damper properly, call a local chimney sweep. They can evaluate your fireplace and chimney for signs of damage and make any necessary repairs.
You can also improve airflow within your home which can affect the draft within your chimney. Consider opening windows when using your fireplace and reducing heat or electrical appliance usage.