One of the most important components of a chimney is something you can’t actually see - the chimney draw.
Chimney draw - also sometimes called the ‘draft’ - is the movement of air up your flue that keeps your fire roaring nice and hot. If it isn’t working properly, you can experience all kinds of problems with your solid fuel burning appliance.
So, it’s always good to understand exactly what creates your chimney draw to be able to fix any problems.
Basically, chimneys work by creating a negative pressure difference between the air in the flue and the air outside. This happens when the air inside the chimney heats up, causing it to rise upwards, like a vacuum.
Cold air is then pulled into the fire to provide new oxygen to feed the flames.
The taller and hotter your chimney is, the stronger the draw or draft will be.
Why is there downdraft in my chimney?
Downdraft occurs in your chimney when the hot air can’t rise up the flue. This could be down to particularly cold temperatures weighing down the hot air, a lack of air supply or a blockage that is stopping the air from rising up.
On a very windy day, you might also find that your chimney draw struggles if you don’t have an anti-downdraft chimney cowl.
How can I make my chimney draw better?
Chimney draw problems present themselves in a couple of different ways. Often, you will find that smoke is backing out of your fireplace or stove. Another common sign of a poor chimney draw is difficulty lighting your fire, or finding it goes out very quickly. You might also find that the odour of soot or smoke is lingering in your room.
Luckily though, there are a good few things you can try to improve the draw on your chimney! Some could be quick fixes, while others might need some work carrying out to get them done.
Take a look at some ways to improve the draft in your chimney here:
1. Check your chimney damper is fully open
A chimney damper is a vent that can be closed to seal off the cold air of the chimney from your room when your fire isn’t in use. Always make sure it is fully open when lighting a fire.
2. Try opening a window
Draft problems are sometimes caused by a lack of air supply in the room. Remember, a fire needs to take in fresh oxygen in order to keep burning. If your room is too airtight, it might be that you need some extra ventilation. If your fire burns better with a window open, this is likely the reason for your poor draft.
3. Get your chimney swept
You should always have your chimney swept at least once a year. If you are suddenly experiencing poor chimney draw, it might be that you’ve got a blockage in your flue. It could be a creosote build up from the smoke or it could even be that a bird has set up their nest in there! Either way, it not only affects your chimney draft, but also puts you at risk of a chimney fire. So, get it checked as soon as possible.
4. Warm up your chimney
A poor chimney draw is sometimes caused by low temperatures. If there is too much cold air in your flue, it will prevent warmer air from being able to rise. Often, priming your flue first can help solve this problem.
To do this, you simply create a makeshift torch out of a roll of newspaper and light it at the end. Hold it under the entrance to your flue until the smoke starts rising up. Then, light your main fire - it should now have a better chance of success.
5. Consider chimney insulation
If you tend to find most of your chimney draw problems occur during cold weather, you might need a more long term solution to warming up your flue. If your chimney is very tall, located on an external wall or has a much bigger diameter than needed, some insulation could help.
We have a full guide on whether you should insulate your chimney liner on our blog!
The best way to improve chimney draw problems - install a chimney fan!
There are a number of reasons why you would suffer a poor draw - or even no draw - on your chimney.
But, there is one way that you can pretty much solve your draft problems for good. All you need to do is install a chimney fan!
What is a chimney fan?
A chimney fan is an electric fan that sits at the top of your chimney or chimney liner. They can withstand high temperatures so should be perfectly safe, though you do need to make sure you clean it regularly.
Many chimney fans have variable speed controls, too. This means that you can adjust the fan to the best setting for your fire.
Do chimney fans work?
Chimney fans are an excellent solution to many of the most common problems with chimney draw and draft.
They work by mechanically creating the negative pressure your chimney needs to work at its best. This means your fire should be easier to light, burns much more efficiently and has less smoke backing out into your room. In fact, it has been shown that a chimney fan can remove up to 80% of smoke particles that would otherwise have ended up in your home!
Chimney fans are particularly useful in modern homes. As we make our houses more energy efficient, this often means our homes are becoming more airtight. While this is great for reducing the amount of energy we use, it poses a challenge to chimneys that were designed to work with more permeable buildings.
Want to see for yourself how a chimney can help your stove or fireplace perform better? Just take a look at this video...
So, don’t rely on the natural elements to get your chimney draw working at its best! There’s no need to suffer the effects of changing temperatures, wind or ventilation concerns. Simply install a chimney fan today and enjoy a perfect fire every time.
Find your chimney fan online today with Trade Price Flues!
If you have any questions around installing a chimney fan - or any other issue regarding your flue - then feel free to contact us!
We have even more flue buying guides and advice you might like from our blog…