This was an interesting situation. Todd had been there before and the customer's son seemed to have tried everything we suggested - but it still smoked. Even though it is a tall fireplace with a short chimney in a tight house, we were sure it was a ventilation problem. But, when we went there in June, it was 90 degrees outside but the temperature in the air conditioned house was only about 60 degrees. Of course when I went downstairs to open a window to let air in, the cold air rushed out instead. Flummoxed, I agreed to come back in the Fall when it would be cooler.
When I got there in November, the customer had invited, Tom, a chimney sweep, to be there too. We soon got the fireplace to draw fine. It just needed more air as we thought all along.
The customer had installed a 6" make-up air vent ducted into the cold air returns but, it turned out the furnace would cycle down when it was warm enough and the vent then didn't work. It needed the air handling fan to on all the time.
For a while we went in circles: You need more ventilation air. Yes, but that will be inefficient. Then control it with a damper or install an automatic make-up air system. But that will be expensive. Then just add more air. But I don't want to have to open dampers and windows depending on whether the furnace is on. Then add more air. That will be inefficient. I think we've covered the bases here.
We established that the fireplace worked if the basement window was open. The problem with that was the basement was where the customer sewed and it would be drafty and cold.
In the end Tom had the great idea of introducing air into the cold room directly under the fireplace where an outside door comes in. Then vent that air up through the floor to the fireplace. There is a warm air supply duct on each side of the fireplace so the idea could be tested by disconnecting the vents, opening the outside door and sealing off the doorway to the basement. If that works it would just be a mater of how big a vent, does it need to be powered, can the warm air vents be reconnected by means of a T, do vents need to be cut, etc.
Adding a chimney pot to raise the chimney would help. So would tipi fires without a grate,
See email recommendations from 11/4/07*.
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