Why Some Chimneys Draft, And Others Do Not
variables can restrict the proper flow of air, smoke and vapors as
they draft up the flue, including: excessive creosote deposits;
closed or plugged dampers; improper construction; animal nesting;
debris from crumbling mortar; structural damage, or even a dirty
But the most common culprit is simple physics:
Neutral Pressure Plane:
Somewhere in your house is something called the Neutral
The location of the NPP is dynamic, since it constantly
adjusts in response to changing conditions.
this theoretical plane, the air pressure is slightly positive
compared to the outdoor air, meaning the air has higher pressure and
is therefore trying to force its way out of the house (the “stack
effect” described above).
the neutral pressure plane, the air pressure is slightly negative,
meaning that part of the house is trying to draw air in.
is an annoying problem anytime a fireplace or fuel-fired heating
appliance is situated below the NPP, because at that location air
will have the tendency to flow into the house (meaning smoke will, too).
wind strikes a building, it creates high pressure on the side that it
hits and low pressure on the downwind side. This means that any open
windows or doors on the windward side will help to pressurize the
chimney draft; however, any windows open on the downwind side will worsen a chimney's draft.
Interior mechanical devices such as clothes dryers, kitchen
fans, bathroom fans, attic fans and, especially,
forced-air furnaces compete with the chimney for the same air, and often win out (because
chimney drafting is passive, whereas these devices use motors, fans
and blowers to affirmatively capture and re-distribute air).
So the solution is simple: turn
off competing devices while a fire is going, or slightly open a
window that is near the fireplace opening to ensure the chimney has a
proper air supply so support proper drafting.
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