So, after reading many posts on several fireplace topics, I understand
how to create the proper draft to get the fire going and such.
Haven't tried yet, but have a few questions. My fireplace is wood
burning (non-gas), brick chimney. Built ~6 years ago.
1. I have this metal cover at the bottom, ~3" x ~6" or so. It opens
into a chute down to the garage, where there is a deposit area and a
metal gate ~10"x10". I assume this is how you take out the ashes.
What is this called? Can this be used to create the updraft as well?
The garage isn't tightly sealed, so I think it'll provide enough air.
I don't like to open the window for the draft because we took all the
window cranks away (windows come down very low and can be dangerous
for 2 young kids if left open).
2. I don't see the damper handle. Could it be that there is no
damper at the top of the chimney? There is a handle that control the
opening into the flue just above where the fire would be.
3. Haven't used the fireplace yet, and there is draft leaking into
the room from the flue opening, even when the gate is shut. Is there
an easy way to block the cold air seaping in? It's not too bad, but
feels like sitting next to a window with large glass area (maybe a tad
worse). Of course, I'd use the seal only when there is no fire going.
4. Assuming I get the proper draft going when there is fire. Will I
still get some ashes into the room? The room has a high, white
cathedral ceiling, and I wouldn't dare paint it myself if it needed
1. It's called the grate. While I've never heard of it being used as a
draft that sounds reasonable if the hot ash which will drop into the garage
is not a fire hazard. Do you store gas in your garage?
2. The damper is located just above the fire as you describe.
3. Fire places are drafty
4. Fire places are dirty
That thing is for cleaning out the ashes, and it should not be necessary to
get involved with it just to get more draft. I'd be very surprised if you
couldn't get sufficient draft simply by opening the damper. It sounds like
you're new at this. If you're nervous about the whole thing, experiment with
very small pieces of wood, perhaps some scrap molding, that'll burn very
I've only lived with or used perhaps 5 fireplaces in my life, but the damper
(the flap right above the fire area) is the only thing I've ever seen.
Sounds like you have glass doors with a metal frame. If so, grab a
refrigerator magnet and see of it'll stick to the metal frame. If YES, find
an attractive piece of heavy fabric and have a tailor sew some magnets into
the seams. Radio Shack sells magnets in various sizes.
You shouldn't get ashes in the room unless someone's stirring things around
carelessly in the fireplace. Everything should go up the chimney. However,
be aware that sparks have a sense of humor and will pop out when the
following conditions are met:
1) You have carpet right outside the fireplace
2) You're opening the door to fiddle with the burning logs
Pick up a thick, cheap rug to put in place when you're having a fire.
On 11 Nov 2004 08:26:04 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org (FGreen) wrote:
What's it called? Jeez, who cares--as long as your wife knows where
it is and how to open and empty it.
If your house is as well constructed as most, you needn't worry about
providing sufficient air (draft) for the fireplace. Get a good fire
going and you'll feel cold air being sucked in around windows, doors,
light switches, receptacle plates, etc.
Top of the chimney? That's a new one on me.
Call that control handle just above the fire a "damper" and your
search is complete--that's it! Usually one reaches it with one of the
fire tools--push in/pull out. Fancier fireplaces have an exterior
Sounds like the damper is faulty. Perhaps damaged from violent
attempts of the previous owner to open/close it? Could be encrusted
with soot or creosote from previous fires. It oughta seal tighter
Not if your keep that ash door in the garage closed! The more likely
danger for newbie pyros is smoke in the living room. You set up the
fire, newspaper, kindling, etc., and light it. It bursts gratifyingly
into flame, and suddenly your missus says, "Honey, should all that
smoke be coming into the room?"
Either you've forgotten to open the damper, or even if you have you
haven't ensured that a proper draft exists. So the first step in
lighting a fire (after checking the damper) is to take a twist of
newspaper, light that, and hold it at the top of the fire area until
you see its smoke head up the flue. Then, light the fire.
Your combination of a cathedral ceiling and primitive fireplace (not
even a 'heat-o-lator,' I bet) means little or no help in heating your
house. But it will seem nice and cozy in the immediate area.
John W. Wells
Sounds like the house was lived in before you bought it. Have you had the
chimney inspected & cleaned? Here (Rochester NY), it just cost me a little
under $100.00. The previous owners (young & clueless) said something about
some "nice pine" they'd burned during two previous years. Hmm.
Get it looked at.
There are a couple different types of dampers. The traditional style is a
throat damper, with sits on the damper plate between the combustion chamber
and the smoke chamber (which narrows to the flue). That's what you have.
The other type is a top-mounted damper (TMD) which is opened and closed
with a pull-handle connected with a stainless cable to the damper. This
style of damper typically provides a better seal than throat dampers. RMR
makes a great version that works as a cap and TMD.
Check and see if your throat damper is open. They can also untrack fairly
easily if your have a lot of debris in the smoke chamber. Try to clean out
the track and reset if this is the case (this can be messy and difficult
for the inexperienced). It may still be drafty, as throat dampers don't
create a tight seal.
If you have trouble with backdrafts, you may experience discoloration.
You'll typically notice it first just above the fireplace opening.
As always, it's a good idea to have your system thoroughly inspected by a
certified chimney sweep. They should be able to go over the finer parts of
your system and help diagnose your draft issue, as well.
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