Addresing 6 Common Causes Of A Drafty Chimney
Buffalo 716-907-4914 / Rochester 585-308-4914
Home Tap to Call Now

The Chill Factor: Understanding Drafty Chimneys

Like your neighbors in Erie County, NY, you’re getting ready to light the fireplace with a crackling fire for a cozy evening. Yet, smoke fills the room instead of warmth, and the fire is struggling to stay lit. It is a telltale sign of a drafty chimney. 

protecting a drafty chimney in Williamsville, NY

Just like an airplane needs a proper lift to soar through the Buffalo skies, a chimney requires an optimal draft to function effectively. So, when draft problems arise, the flames falter, and indoor comfort becomes quite chilly. In this article, we’ll take the chill out of the air to understand the causes and cures of drafty chimneys.

Understanding Draft

First, let’s understand what a draft is. It’s the movement of air, driven by the temperature and pressure difference between the chimney and the outside air. Lighter than its colder counterpart, warm air rises through the flue, carrying combustion gases. This creates a low-pressure zone in the chimney, drawing fresh air from the firebox to fuel the flames. That sounds simple enough. So, let’s see what happens when the draft is interrupted.

Common Causes of Drafty Chimneys in Western New York

Several factors can disrupt the airflow balance, leading to draft issues:

Missing Cap

When a chimney cap is missing or damaged, gusty winds can create a downdraft that can blow out the fire, pushing smoke and debris into your home. It is one of the most common causes of draft issues and one of the simplest to fix.

Wind Factor

Strong winds can disrupt the natural draft pattern, causing downdrafts that push smoke back into the house, showering your living room in soot, creosote, and hot ash. 

Flue Blockage

Creosote buildup, debris like leaves and twigs, or animal nests can obstruct the flue, hindering airflow. 

Damper Malfunction

A damper, either stuck open or closed or even gasket damage, can throw the air pressure balance off, resulting in a weak or reversed draft.

Airtight Envelope

Modern, energy-efficient homes can be too airtight, hindering the natural influx of air needed for proper combustion.

Size Matters

An improperly sized chimney, too big or too small for the fireplace, can create draft problems. This commonly occurs when a homeowner or contractor improperly installs a new heating appliance.

Smoke Signals: Symptoms of a Drafty Chimney

Is your chimney sending smoke signals? Chimneys and flues often give clues that could identify chimney drafts as the cause. Some of these signs include:

  • Smoke backing up into your home: This is the most obvious sign, posing a health and fire hazard.
  • Difficulty lighting or maintaining a fire: You need more draft to light the fire.
  • Excessive smoke billowing from the chimney: This indicates poor exhaust and potential creosote buildup.
  • Cold drafts from the fireplace: Your chimney is acting like a giant vacuum, sucking in cold air instead of expelling smoke.

Restoring Optimal Draft

Now that you know the clues, here’s how to solve the case:

Schedule a professional chimney sweep 

Felgemacher’s professional chimney sweeps remove blockages, creosote, soot, and debris when cleaning the chimney to ensure smooth airflow. 

Check your damper

Ensure it opens and closes freely, maintaining proper air pressure control. Ask about our top-mount dampers for increased energy efficiency and optimal draft.

Install a fireplace insert

These self-contained heating appliances fit directly inside the firebox opening, instantly eliminating drafting problems while providing up to 80% heating efficiency. 

Improve ventilation

If you have an airtight home, open a window slightly while using the fireplace to provide adequate air intake. Your chimney sweep may offer additional recommendations

chimney protection in lancaster ny

Remember, attempting to diagnose or repair chimney problems yourself could result in severe injuries. Always consult a certified chimney sweep for safe and effective solutions.

Professional Chimney Inspections in Buffalo  – Niagara Falls – Rochester, NY

We’re in your neighborhood! Whether you have a gas or wood fireplace, insert, or stove, it is vital to address chimney draft issues quickly to prevent health and safety hazards such as a chimney fire. So, call Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney’s certified professionals at (716) 452-9156 in Buffalo or (585) 684-7197 in Rochester to schedule a Chimney Inspection with a Certified Chimney Sweep® today! You can also contact us online.