10 Tips to improve the chimney draft of the open fireplace

Many people experience problems with the fireplace draft of the open fireplace, even when the fireplace is newly constructed. Here you can find a number of tips in order to reduce the fireplace smoke in a smoky fireplace, starting with the least drastic measures and ending with the most drastic measures:


1 | Ensure a fast, hot start to the fire

By starting the fire with pieces of wood of fast-burning wood types (poplar, pine, willow, alder, etc.) and a lighter block, a warm air flow through the chimney is quickly developed. The warmth will create the draft in the fireplace and keep the fire going. Use the Swiss or reverse lighting method. Swiss research has shown that there is a better combustion of the firewood if the fire is lit from top to bottom. It works like this: To start, place two or three - not too large - logs on the fireplace floor or the grate, with some space between the logs. Then place three layers of kindling crosswise on the logs and on top of each other. Then place two lighter blocks on the second-lowest layer of the kindling. Finally, light the lighter blocks. Also see the following video. 


2 | Only burn wood that has been dried for two years

If you burn wood that is too wet, it is more difficult to get a good fire going and to maintain it. After you have started the fire with fast-burning materials and wood types, feed the fire with slow-burning wood types like oak, beech, birch and wood from fruit trees. These wood types must be dried at least two years in order to burn a well-drawing fire. Do not use fast-burning wood types (pine, willow, alder) in this phase of the fire because this leads to the output of a dangerous amount of sparks. Heating with wet wood is also not eco-friendly because there is a relatively high amount of particulate emissions.


Fireplace with good draft


3 | Keep a fireplace fire going with bellows or a blow poker

Ensure that the fire continues burning well, because that also keeps the pull in the chimney going well and reduce the fireplace smoke. A quietly burning fire works best and is the most eco-friendly as long as no smoke is released. This requires attention when lighting the fire.


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4 | Build fires on andirons and/or fireplace grate or a fire basket

By building fires on andirons with or without a fire grate or in a fire basket, air can get under the fire, which makes it burn better and continue burning. It is the least drastic step with a potentially big effect. People have been using this technique since prehistory, initially on a single andiron. You can test the effect of this by imitating andirons with stones.


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5 | Increase the height of the fireplace grate or of the fire basket

By increasing the height of the fire grate, the fire is closer to the chimney channel, as a result of which, the chimney flue becomes warmer and the draft will improve immediately. You can test the effect of this by raising the fireplace grate or the fire basket with stones.


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6 | Open the window and turn off the kitchen exhaust hood

An open fireplace uses approximately 250 - 350 m3 of air per hour for the exhaust of combustion gases and burning of the wood. In well-insulated homes, the movement of so much air quickly presents a problem. This creates reverse pressure, and the smoke soon comes into the house. This reverse pressure can also be created by a kitchen exhaust hood in well-insulated home. Opening the window is naturally an option, but it is not an attractive solution in the winter. The extraction from the oven can also influence the draft of the fireplace.


7 | Lower the opening of the open fireplace

for example by attaching a strip of fireproof glass 15-20 cm high at the top of the opening of the fireplace. This brings the stream of air closer to the fire, and the fire will burn better. In the past, strips of fabric were also used for this. You can test the potential effect of this by, for example, temporarily placing a piece of wall board at the top of the fireplace.


8 | Install an air vent

By installing an air vent in or close to the fireplace (with a tube with a diameter of 15 cm from the crawl space or through the outside wall) the flow of air will be increased. Get advice about this solution from a professional before you install the air vent.


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9 | Install a ventilator in or on the chimney

This is a pretty significant step, not only because it is a rather pricey solution. There namely has to be electricity run to the ventilator and from the ventilator to the operating switch. In addition, the device has to be maintained annually. It is also important for this solution that you first get advice from a professional.


Fireplace with good draft


10 | Improve the smoke channel

If all the measures above have not helped, then there is nothing for it but to improve the smoke channel. This can be done by increasing the diameter, removing any bends from the channel, making the walls of the channel smoother, lengthening the smoke channel, etc. For this drastic solution, professional advice is recommended.


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