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Clogged Chimney – Wood Stove Drafting Issues Can Be a Clue

clogged chimney cleaningA lesson that many homeowners have learned the hard way is the critical importance of having their chimneys inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. Both wood-burning fireplaces and wood stoves need regular upkeep to avoid clogging.

Chimneys with drafting issues will give signs. One of the early signs is the subtle smell of smoke around the stove or fireplace. If the vent system is clogged – even to a relatively minor degree – the path of smoke from the fire to the outside of the home can be impeded. Any time you smell smoke during the operation of a fire, you need to address the issue right away.

What causes wood stove drafting issues?

Both traditional chimneys and vent pipes on wood stoves can become clogged over time. Anything that obstructs the flow of air and smoke is a problem, but a buildup of creosote is a dangerous problem.

When wood burns, creosote is created, It’s unavoidable. However, the creation of this toxin will be exacerbated when green (wet, unseasoned) wood is burned. But even burning dry wood causes the production of creosote, which is a brown or black crispy substance that easily clings to chimneys and stove pipes.

Years of un-addressed creosote buildup creates not only drafting issues but also the very real possibility of a chimney fire. When creosote is present in large quantities, drafting is compromised, leading to far greater temperatures in the vent system, which can lead to creosote being ignited. Obviously, this is something you want to avoid at all costs.

Slow fire-starting

Another clue that there may be drafting issues with your chimney or stove pipe is trouble getting a fire started. Fire requires sufficient oxygen (think air-flow). With a clogged vent system, you’ll find it harder and harder to get a fire blazing.

Starting good fires can also be hampered if the wood logs are stacked too tightly together. This “traffic jam” will prevent enough oxygen from flowing through the firebox. So give the logs some room to breathe. If you’re still having problems, a clogged vent may be the culprit.

Debris from outside may be causing drafting issues

chimney swift nestAside from a creosote buildup, your chimney or stove pipe may be obstructed by outside debris.

This is a common problem when a chimney doesn’t have a chimney cap. Anything that can get into your chimney is a problem:

 

  • Animal nests
  • Dead animals
  • Leaves
  • Twigs and small tree branch sections

If you suspect you may have a clogged vent system for your wood stove or wood fireplace, contact Burlington Fireplace & Heating in Burlington, Wisconsin, to arrange for a thorough inspection. Our crews are experts at problem-solving and can give you plenty of advice on the safe operation of all home heating appliances.

To schedule a cleaning or inspection, or to get more information on these services, visit our website or call (262) 763-3522.

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