Did you know that each year over 170,000 new homes with fireplaces are completed in the United States? Not only is the heating feature attractive, but it’s also great for warming up your home in the middle of winter. Unfortunately, many homeowners will often neglect or misuse their wood burning fireplace.
This can lead to some common problems that range from minor inconveniences to life-threatening scenarios. Luckily, we’ve organized this article to help you become more aware of some of the common issues. Let’s get started!
Ten Wood Burning Fireplace Problems That Happen Often
Most of the time wood-burning fireplace problems are easy to fix. However, it’s important to know exactly what the issue is before you address it. To help you find out, we’ve organized a list of some of the common issues fireplace owners experience. Let’s take a look!
1) Not Opening the Dampner
If you aren’t familiar with how to operate a fireplace, then a closed damper might be your problem. The dampener is a metal plate that lies between your chimney and fireplace. When closed off, it prevents smoke from escaping through the chimney. As such, you should make sure that your dampener is completely open before lighting a fire.
2) Problems In the Brickwork
If a chimney is old enough, it can begin experiencing serious structural problems. Issues with the brickwork can lead to things like leaning, crumbling, and unstable. Typically, these types of structural problems occur when moisture enters the fireplace.
The good news is that there are some ways to fix it. For example, procedures like tuckpointing allow works to remove the damaged mortar and replace it with a new one. Remember that it’s much more affordable to repair your chimney than build or purchase a new one.
Any number of things can obstruct the flow of air through a chimney — leaves, animal nests, or fallen branches. Regardless of what causes the obstruction, it prevents smoke from leaving the chimney. If the obstruction is airtight, then the smoke can get drawn back into the house. This can have potentially deadly consequences.
Carbon monoxide, one of the silent home killers, can enter the home. Carbon monoxide from chimneys kills around twenty people a year. And while this number might not seem high, it’s still a serious cause for concern if you have a fireplace in your home.
4) Too Much Creosote
Before we talk about why creosote is bad, we first need to understand what it is. The substance is a mixture of tar and soot that’s made whenever you burn wood in your fireplace.
Typically, creosote is deposited into the flue lining. However, when this lining hasn’t been cleaned, the situation can turn dangerous. Creosote is flammable, so it can easily cause house fires when it overflows. It can also cause serious heating issues if you’re using your fireplace for warmth. As such, you should make sure that you check for it.
5) Crack In the Chimney Lining
As we mentioned before, the chimney lining, or flue, is responsible for collecting creosote. When there’s a crack in the lining, moisture can enter the chimney. This causes the lining to deteriorate rapidly. Since the lining protects the flammable parts of the home from fire you must address this as soon as possible.
6) Cracks In the Chimney Crown
A chimney crown is what prevents moisture from entering your chimney. Also, they keep debris out When there is a crack in the crown, water can get it and wreak havoc on the structural integrity of every part of your fireplace. As such, you should continually make sure that there are no cracks.
7) Burning the Wrong Material
Make sure you’re only burning old, try wood in your fireplace. Green wood, or young wood, is high in water content. As such, it can seriously damage the inside of your chimney lining. Similarly, avoid burning track like newspaper or gift wrap. This produces much more smoke which can also cause future problems.
8) Paint Smell When Burning
If your wood fireplace is freestanding and new, then it might give off a smell of burning paint the first few time that you use it. The good news is that this problem typically goes away by itself once the paint has been allowed to fully cure. However, if you notice it persisting for weeks, then you should consider calling the manufacturer.
9) Dirty Glass Doors
If your fireplace has glass doors, then you might notice them getting dirty with soot. You can avoid this problem by cleaning it regularly. However, avoid hard chemical cleaners as these will leave unattractive marks. Instead, simply use a clean cloth covered in water.
10) Improper Wood Storage
One major problem homeowners experience is leaving their wood outdoors in an uncovered area. All this is doing is inviting wood-eating insects like termites to feast on your supply. Then, when you bring wood inside you’re essentially inviting the termites in along with it. If they spread throughout the house, then they can wreak havoc on your floors, walls, foundation, and furniture.
Schedule a Home Inspection to Make Sure Your Property Is Safe
We hope this article helped show you some of the common problems that come with a wood burning fireplace. A simple way to make sure that your fireplace is working safely is by contacting a home inspection service. In addition to internal and external inspections, a home inspector will also investigate the roof, crawlspace, basement, and foundation.
If there are any defects or problems, then they will include them in their detailed report. But how do you find a home inspection service that you can trust? If you live in the Northeast Ohio area, then look no further than CLASS Home Inspection.
In addition to providing you with detailed photos and reports, we also answer any questions you might have about the state of your home. If you’re ready for the peace of mind that you deserve, then contact us today.