Know anything about chimneys? Do tell!

Discussion in 'All Other Discussions' started by Spinach, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. Spinach

    Spinach
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    We heat with wood. Not much choice.

    Our home is in an "L" shape (an upside-down L). On the long side of the L (west side), the chimney is great (built last winter). It drafts fabulously. No problems. No complaints.

    The chimney on the short side of the L (the north side) is another story. We have a back puffing problem. We also deal with smoky starts, but that is cured by cracking a kitchen window a bit until the flue heats sufficiently.

    Wind is our chimney's worst enemy. The other night wind gusts were so strong that it sent smoke back into the house. Terribly dangerous to one's health!

    So how do we fix this? No one around us seems to know.

    We bought what we thought was a wind cap. Turns out it is a turbine roof ventilator. It hasn't helped.

    We also cut the trees within a ten ft radius of the chimney. Hasn't helped.

    Any and all advice would be appreciated!
     
  2. Revmitchell

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    Yep they stick up above the roof
     
  3. Spinach

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    Thanks. I will meditate on this and seek ways to apply it :laugh:
     
  4. blackbird

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    I've had wood stoves in the past---and just built our house here on the farm with one-----ummmm---theres not much you can do with "back smoke" really except just let it "back smoke"---especially on windy days with varable winds---back smoke is especially noticeable when outside temps are warmer---yet still chilly enough to have a fire inside---especially when inside temps are about equal to outside----say its 60 outside and you want to have a fire to break the inside chill--so you build one and then the inside temp rises but so does the outside temp--the outside temp rises to 70 say---and your fire is still going and then the inside temp is also 70 (happens a lot here in the south)--and the smoke stack "draw" gets all messed up

    Hopes this helps a little
    Your buddy,
    Blackbird
     
  5. blackbird

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    Hint-------leave the damper OPEN between the hours of 11pm and 12:30 am Christmas Eve and early Christmas day!!!!
     
  6. Spinach

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    Back puffing contains CO and is dangerous.

    The temperatures outside are below freezing, so the inside/outside temperature isn't the culprit this time. For everyday fires, we've found the solution----crack open the kitchen window a bit until the flue is sufficiently warm. But for the windy days, is there a solution?
     
  7. Crabtownboy

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  8. Spinach

    Spinach
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    Oh, dear. I almost forgot. Thanks!!

    :laugh:
     
  9. blackbird

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    Make sure you burn only seasoned HARDWOOD---no pine, fur--or junk wood

    Make sure your wood is stacked in dry place

    Do not burn "Green" wood

    You cut tree this year to burn next year

    This reduces smoke while burning
     
  10. rbell

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    I was going to put something wise here...but I would only be blowing smoke.


    :eek: :D
     
  11. abcgrad94

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    Have you had it cleaned out recently? Sometimes the birds and squirrels build nests up there and that can cause the back smoke.

    Ditto what Blackbird said. Make sure your wood is seasoned and not "junk" wood. We never burned pine, newspaper, or anything damp.
     
  12. Spinach

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    Chimney is clean and clear. Wood is good.

    Just got off the phone with dh and it sounds like he wants to try giving the chimney more height and putting an all-weather cap on top (since we can't find a wind cap). After that we'll have to wait for a wind storm to see if it did the trick.

    Thanks for the link, Crabtownboy!
     
  13. annsni

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    Yep - definitely needs to be higher above the roof line so that the roof isn't causing any other draft issues. Also, get the fire HOT right away and you should have much less of a problem. Our den fireplace has a short chimney and needs to be raised to stop the back draft issue but we find if we get the fire going hot and fast immediately, it creates the proper up-draft and we have much less issues. So we'll make sure we lay the wood out well and add a good amount of newspaper or old sticks to get it running fast and furious.
     
  14. Jim1999

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    The fact that you are opening a window and your chimney functions better shows that your stove is not getting enough air.

    Your chimney should rise four feet above roof and two feet above anything within 6 feet of it. The chimney should be the same size as the stove, or at least within 1 inch larger or smaller. The cap only prevents rain from coming down the chimney. It does not affect the draft.

    Always open your stove draft fully before opening door, and then open it one inch at at time, slowly.

    Cold air drops down the outer side of chimney and rises in centre as the heat rises from the stove. It forms a suction as it rises and takes the smoke with it.

    Green wood is 80% moisture and wood must be at least 20% or less moisture when burning. The difference in burning soft wood or hard wood is the length of the burn and BTU's. Many of us in Canada do not have access to hardwoods and yet temperatures drop to -40 and -50 in winter.

    The stove pipe temperature should be around 100-400f to keep the chimney functioning properly.

    The worst woodburning stove can heat properly on the best chimney. Whereas the best stove will function poorly on a bad chimney. This fact should be an indicator.

    It is hard to offer sound advice without seeing the setup.

    Cheers,

    Jim

    PS. We heat 2000 sq ft house, two-floors with one woodburner. No other heat source for 32 years now.
     
  15. Johnv

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    My mother's house had a similar problem. It was a combination of the chimney not being high enough, and not being capped. The problem was remedied by capping the chimney with a cap that also extended the height. It didnt' cost much, IIRC.
     
  16. blackbird

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    Jim is right----hardwood has a better BTU "burn" than soft wood---but I've noticed big differences in different types of hardwood--even with Oak(which is majority of what I use)---White and Red Oak burn nicely---Pin Oak is ok as well as Water Oak---but Live Oak doesn't put out heat worth a flip

    Sometimes though---I can build a fire and the heat will run you out of the house---sometimes, too---it seems I can't put enough wood in to get the house warm

    Only difference between where I live and where Jim lives---is where I live--Winter temps rarely drop below the teens in the dead of Winter--and that for just a couple of times and then it warms back up to 50
     
  17. Jim1999

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    We never capped chimneys in England, but they were round, built inside the house to keep them warm, and they functioned very well.

    The size and height is the most important factor. There is a lot of false teaching about caps. They are rain caps! Some have tried to put moving caps on chimneys because they falsely build the chimney.

    We burn mostly hard maple, elm and bitternut. The trees are cut in winter. It is split and stacked in spring and taken under cover in September, to be used that winter. Oak will often need two years to dry out for burning.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  18. billwald

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    Is this an open fireplace? You would use at least 2/3rds less wood with an EPA certified insert. Washington State has an extra severe standard.

    http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/indoor_woodsmoke/wood_smoke_page.htm

    I heat the house with a wood stove and burn most everything except glossy paper, plywood and chip board - the glue burns well but stinks.
     
  19. Spinach

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    How would we fix this?

    I can't open just any window. For instance, if I open the window on the south side, it still smokes during start-up. But if I crack open the kitchen window on the north side, there is absolutely no smoke. I experimented with it the other day and found that this is the only window that works to remove the smoking.

    Dh added some height and we've not had any back-puffing. However, we've not had another storm with that strong of wind, so we'll have to wait a bit to prove it.
     
  20. Melanie

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    Thalt shalt not attempt burgalry via a chimney....you can get stuck and then die ......this has happened as the folks were away for a few days....what an awful death that would have been
     

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