Why isn’t My Fireplace Working?

Correcting fireplace issues before the Ohio Valley winter descends on Wheeling.

October quickly turned into November, and as the Halloween decorations go back into storage, we start to prepare for the winter months ahead. Residents of Wheeling, WV and the entire Ohio Valley are hitting the stores early, adding items to their online shopping carts and stocking up on salt and De-Icer in the hopes to beat winter mania. And just as you prepare for the winter holiday’s, now is the time to get your fireplace in check before the frigid air rests over the Wheeling area for what seems like an eternity!

If you’ve given your fireplace a test-run, only to be chased out by a room full of smoke or a fireplace that won’t even light, Fireplace ‘N’ Fixin’s has some theories on what may be causing the problem.

Is the Damper open?Fireplaces Wheeling
The damper is located at what is known as the throat of the chimney. We close the damper when the fireplace is not in use, keeping air in and critters out. If the damper is closed, smoke has nowhere else to go but inside. Check the damper, make sure it’s open. If you are trying and it won’t open, there may be soot build-up or water damage preventing the damper from opening properly. In this case, you might need a chimney sweep.

Dirty chimney.

It’s inevitable that over time, your chimney will need a cleaning. Chimneys accumulate soot, creosote buildup and sticks and debris from the occasional bird or animal nest who thought your chimney was a hollowed-out tree. These things will all cause an obstruction from burning properly. If you suspect your chimney is dirty, call us for a chimney sweep. In fact, we advise you complete this on annual basis to ensure a safe fire season.

Flue size matters.
The chimney flue is the long-neck of the fireplace that carries the smoke from your fire to the outside. If the flue is too small for the size of your hearth, it’s not able to handle the amount of smoke
omitted from the fire. This causes “back-puffing”. Most chimneys erected over the last 20 years are built properly to size, but older homes may need to be fixed by an expert. 

So does the firewood…
Believe it or not, you can’t just burn wood. Firewood should be kiln-dried or dried out naturally over time. This is called seasoned wood. Unseasoned wood is wood that wasn’t dried properly and is holding in moisture. An easy way to tell if
wood is dry or not is by picking it up. Wood that is dry is lighter in weight and cracked, whereas a piece of wood that is water-logged will be obviously heavier and exhibit no cracks because the water hasn’t seeped out yet.  Trying to burn wet firewood is a waste of time, money and wood as it’s not going to burn properly.

If you’re experiencing issues with your fireplace or chimney, it’s best to have one of our Fireplace ‘N’ Fixin’s experts to assess and diagnose the situation. Fireplaces are a wonderful way to gather around with your family, but practicing fire-safety is the most important thing you can do before you can enjoy a nice time around the hearth. If you’re living in the Ohio Valley or Wheeling, WV area, call us at 740-635-3766.