Do you have issues with chimney odors? Is there smoke blowing back into your home? Are your fires not burning as efficiently as you would like them to? If you have any of these issues, the likely cause is an issue with your home’s airflow or air pressure and can be solved by a few simple changes in your home. At Northeastern Masonry and chimney, we want to help you solve issue with your homes air flow. Our experienced chimney technicians understand the physics of your chimney system and can determine what needs to be done by performing a simple chimney inspection.
The air in your house is constantly in motion, even if you can’t detect it. Generally, warm air is lighter and moves towards the upper portions of your home while cool, dense air flows to the lower portions of your home. However, there are many things that affect how air moves in your home. Learning how air moves in your home can help you determine what needs to be done to fix issues with airflow.
Stack effect and Wind Loading
The stack effect occurs when warm air gets forced towards the upper portion of your home. The warm air is then forced out of your home through small cracks in the roof and walls. At the same time air is being drawn into your home to replace this lost air. Somewhere in your home is an area called Neutral Pressure Plane (NPP) where the air pressure in your home is neutral. The pressure of the warmer air above this plane is a little bit higher than it is outside, while the cooler air below the NPP has air pressure is slightly lower than the outside. This means that the lower sections of your home will attempt to bring in the air from outdoors. However, since newer homes are designed to be airtight, if your fireplace is located below the NPP it will suck in air from outdoors through the chimney, bringing chimney odors with. This can also lead to smoke being pushed into the home when your fire is not hot enough.
Wind loading is another common issue that we come across. If there are high winds outside your home, it can cause air pressure on the side of your home being struck by the wind to be higher than the opposite side. If a window is opened on the downwind side of the house, it causes backdraft and smoke will be drawn out of the fireplace. Instead of up the chimney.
What can I do about airflow issues?
Negative air pressure is an annoying issue that can be solved with these tips. First, you should prime your chimney before you light a fire. Cold air in your chimney will try to flow downward, into your home once you open your damper. You should heat up your chimney first by rolling up a piece of newspaper, lighting it, and carefully holding up your chimney to warm it. This will heat up your chimney, and, since warm air rises, you won’t have to worry about smoke entering your home.
Smoke and air also need to be able to flow freely up your chimney flue. If there is creosote buildup or debris inside your chimney it can lead to airflow issues as well. The best way to know that air is flowing through your chimney the way it is supposed to be is to have your chimney inspected annually by a CSIA-certified chimney technician.
If you are having issues with your chimney’s airflow, call Northeastern Masonry & Chimney at 518-767-9314, or schedule an appointment online today to have one of our CSIA certified chimney technicians inspect your chimney today.