Someone told me a good way to start a draft in a fireplace it to take
one sheet of a newspaper, wad it and roll it at the same time so it
will burn well and is tall with a "handle" at the base, light the top,
and hold it up inside the fireplace, close to the chimney.
When I do this, everything is fine. Then I light the paper below the
kindling which is below the logs, and even the first bit of smoke goes
up the chimney.
When I skip this part, lighting a sheet of newspaper near the chimney,
there is no current up the chimney and after I light the fire, the
smoke goes out into the room and eventually up the stairs to the first
floor. Even then, if there is not too much flame, I can do the
newspaper in the chimney thing and start the air flow up the chimney,
and it sucks the smoke out of the basement room, into the fire and up
But someone told me the newspaper thing is not a good idea. True? and
if true, why not?
It seems to work well.
In my case, I have a steel fireplace with galvanized chimney, and an
iron log rack.
On Fri, 11 Apr 2008 22:00:23 -0700 (PDT), Big_Jake
No, I'm not sure. YOu could be right. The only part I can really see
is the part above the second floor ceiling and the part above the
roof, and even then I can only see the outside layer. That is
galvanized, but I know there is insulation and then an inside layer.
The part I might see just above the chimney is dirty and I've never
looked closely at it or tried to clean it to see if it is stainless.
Ash and creosote development. It's possible to ignite the chiney that way
if it hasnt been cleaned properly. However, if you burn only hard woods (no
pines etc) and have an annual professional cleaning, it might be ok. Might
be best to just call your local chiney cleaners and ask. This is probably a
BTW, if you have been trying to 'DIY' chimney clean, you may be in for some
pretty severe issues. Although if can be done, unless you have the right
gear and really know what you are doing, thats a common cause of house
I can hazard a guess that your log rack is too far to the front. You may
need to shift to more towards the back a few inches to gain a proper draft
with no need for the paper trick up the chimney.
Many things are possible, but if the chimney buildup is that bad, the
fire to come is certainly far more likely to do the trick. Newspaper
doesn't burn very hot and a single sheet or two isn't much of a fire...
Possible, but many fireplaces just don't draw well owing to many factors
-- too large, too small, etc., etc., etc., ...
The prime reason any more is the house itself is sealed too well so
there's insufficient draft available--the almost certain 'trick' is to
crack open a window.
The sign of a chimney that draws well enough once a warm column is
started to counteract the downdraft of the cold air column is a pretty
good sign of insufficient air flow available.
It would appear that you have a problem, it could be a badly designed
chimney, a chimney that needs sweeping, a chimney needs to project at
least 3.5 feet above the roof peak to draw properly, a chimney that
is the wrong size for the stove, diameter too big or too small, a
chimney that is starved of air,
From a practical view, a chimney that is inside the main fabric of the
building and is protected from the cold and wind and is properly
insulated will always work better.
When lighting a fire, the chimney that is insulated will start
When lighting the fire, the initial heat has to lift a plug of cold
up and out of the chimney, some 16 feet of cold air will be pushed
upwards and out, an easy air supply and a quick to warm chimney
will make life a lot more pleasant.
A fire that has a direct supply of outside air is cheaper to run,
in as much as it is not burning air you v'e paid to heat, and it will
stop any drafts in the room.
On the other hand, a fire that burns too quickly, will burn cold.
So, a fire needs a controlled air supply to burn at its hottest.
On tick over, a fire that has a cold flue, or that struggles to find
air to burn will go out sooner.
Code (the IRC specifically) requires a chimney to be 2' higher than
the closest section of roof within 10', but no less than 3' higher
than where it penetrates the roof - not 3.5' above the peak. In your
scenario, with a chimney on a non-gable wall, the chimney could easily
extend 10' or 15' above the roof line. Too tall of a chimney is also
a bad thing for the draft...and cost.
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