Some additional thoughts to ponder:
My own opinion is that Duraflame or Northland type logs really are not very
good to burn. I don't know what temperature they burn at as compared to dry
hard wood but, it doesn't appear to be as hot and you do need a temperature
high enough to create the updraft in the chimney.
If your house is well sealed, then you might be encountering a problem of
not having sufficient air for the fireplace to work properly. A very simple
experiment will tell you if this is the case. Crack a window or door open
and light the fire in the fireplace. All the smoke and odours should go
straight up the chimney once there is sufficient heat in the chimney to
produce the updraft.
We had a very large fireplace for the size of the house and this worked
If the problem is that air is being forced down the chimney past the closed
damper when there isn't a fire in the fireplace, check that the damper is
clean (even if a chimney sweep claimed to have cleaned it), and make sure
that it is closing properly. If those two items check out, you MAY benefit
from a chimney cap that looks like a tube on its side. I never needed one
but am told that it sets up a negative pressure in the chimney when the wind
blows thereby drawing air up the chimney instead of blowing down the
Hope this helps
Port Dover Ontario
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