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Smoke is supposed to go up a Chimney

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Joined: Mar 24 2003

How many of you fellow Eichler enthusiasts love the enormous fireplace but are getting smokey houses in the process? I already have a standard exterior spark arrestor on the chimney BTW.

Is there something that can be done to ensure that the smoke goes up? (Other than leaving a crack in a window near the fireplace to help the draw?)

Are there any easy projects for DIY or companies that can help?

Thanks for any thoughts or experiences.

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

there is some ratio that I can't remember that tells you what size fireplace opening you should have for the volume of your fireplace....something like that??? Anyway, the opening of my fireplace is too big...as I suspect yours is too if you are getting smoke in your house. The fireplace inspector suggested closing up the opening a little--which would could look ugly. But it would be the easiest and most economical fix. The suggestiong was a bar of metal along the top that was like 4" tall. These are often put on fireplaces along with those sliding mesh screens...know what I'm talking about. Anyway, he suggested the bar with or without the screens. I'm sure you can find out this ratio to determine exactly how much of the opening of the fireplace you would need to close....if you choose to go this route.

Ben
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Joined: Aug 12 2004

The opening vs flue dia vs flue length vs outside metrics mostly applies to when the architect is designing the house.

Once the stuff is cast in stone/masonary, it's a done deal unless willing to tear stuff out and/or replace.

I've had my OEM Eichler fireplace going slowly and roaring without smoke coming back in. The first few times, yes and when it's really windy, yes. This is before puting in an insert.

Getting a good draft is the key. First make sure the flue dampener is opened and no other obstructions are in the way.

The fire must be built right and the draft started before the fire is lit.

I roll up newspapers into a roll that is about 3 feet long and about 3-4 inches in dia. The roll has to have the center hollow and the layers crinkled to trap in air pockets. Make two or three of these.

Build your wood pile with paper, kindling, larger pieces of wood and topped with a large piece. Soft woods easiest for this, but any wood will do. I used hardwood and no soft woods after a few seasons.

The pile should have the paper at the bottom in a "chute" between a couple of bigger pieces. Better to have too much paper than not enough. Toped with kindling. Topped with larger wood.

Paper is torn newspaper and crinkled into bunches with lots of air gaps inside.

Now place one of the newspaper rolls inside and up into the flue.

Light that roll and allow it to burn **UP INTO** the flue. As it burns down about half way, put another roll in and get it lit. Then the 3rd.

By this time the flue is getting hot enough to create it's own updraft.

Between the 2nd and 3rd roll of newspaper, light the pile of fire wood at the bottom newspaper.

The up draft should now be going by itself and pull the smoke from the wood pile enough to get itself going pretty good.

I used this as a training ground for my kids when they were little. Better for them to learn about pyrotechnics from dad than from their buddies. Let them discover what "hot" means, but of course don't let them burn themselves.

Other things that can affect is a large something in the air flow outside. Like another building, tree, etc. Either in the pressure side or vacuum side of the wind direction.

If in the pressure side, it will look for any lower pressure route and that might be down the chiminey flue.

If on the vacuum side, the whole house might be in a vacuum and one of the opening (window, door, vents, etc) will pull smoke down the flue and through the house.

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Joined: Jan 29 2004

Ben wrote:
I used this as a training ground for my kids when they were little. Better for them to learn about pyrotechnics from dad than from their buddies. Let them discover what "hot" means, but of course don't let them burn themselves.

Ben, that's a great tutorial on how to build a fire. But if you're concerned about your kid's health, maybe you should consider what you're doing to the air they breath.

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

Editorial comment: What about the air -- I mean smoke -- that the neighbors get to breathe? Lucky them.

C

Ben
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Joined: Aug 12 2004

That was before I installed the inserts, which are EPA rated and allowed to burn on alert days.

We are talking about firing a regular fireplace, right?

Boy am I going to get flamed on this....

Does this mean no one should be allowed to fire up their fire places with a traditional fire?

Does anyone grill outside with charcoal? Propane? They burn and smoke too.

What about the backyard fire pots that are sold in all hardware stores...today?

Too many don't hike, camp, etc with the outdoors. Those kids who we've brought with us when my kids were little had no clue HOW2 start a camp fire. Even one in the stone pit provided by the forest service. They wanted to toss some gasoline to get it going.

During the 89 quake there were only three homes on my street that had light and cooking abilities. They were all campers and the rest of the neighborhood came over with their stuff out of their refrig's.

Candles okay, but didn't last long and blew out easily. They were actually afraid of the sound my Coleman gas lantern made, but amazed at the amount of light. They had to go "home" in the dark, as their flash lite batteries were dying.

We had heat from our fireplace stove insert (now an issue as current one needs 110VAC) that heated the whole house. Coleman gas camp stove to cook with. Coleman gas lantern to light most of the house. And slept outside in the tent the first night, as didn't know if the house was safe or not (I got home after 6 hours on the freeway and it was after midnite).

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Joined: Jan 29 2004

Ben wrote:
Does this mean no one should be allowed to fire up their fire places with a traditional fire?

Yes, I'd ban them. Some cities have. Where do you stand on smoking vehicles? Do they offend you or do they make you feel nostalgic for the 70s?

Ben wrote:
Does anyone grill outside with charcoal? Propane? They burn and smoke too.

The difference is that burning wood releases carcinogenic particulates. Propane burns cleanly, and over 70% of Americans use propane or natural gas BBQs.

Ben wrote:

What about the backyard fire pots that are sold in all hardware stores...today?

Much worse than your EPA rated insert. Ban 'em. And while you're at it, put a $1/gallon tax on gas at the pump.

Ben wrote:

Too many don't hike, camp, etc with the outdoors. Those kids who we've brought with us when my kids were little had no clue HOW2 start a camp fire.

The last time I camped in Yosemite Valley an inversion layer trapped all the campfire smoke. It was charming, and gave me some sense of what the great London smog of 1952 (12k people killed) must have been like.

Robert

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

The best drawing fireplaces are ones that are not on exterior walls. If
they are kept insulated from the cold, they draw better. Is your fireplace on an exterior wall? If so, maybe an insert is the answer. You can have
gas logs with a real masonry fireplace, but I'd be a little concerned if your
flue isn't working properly - you'd have to get that checked. Or you could
get a gas insert with a separate vent.

You should make sure that you don't have other ventilation units in your
home operating at the same time that you light a fire. Some of the big
professional kitchen vent hoods are notorious for backdrafting furnaces
and fireplaces.

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Joined: Mar 24 2003

Thank you for all your thoughtful comments. I appreciate them. Guess our next step is to get a "professional" over to rook us, I mean, give us an estimate. I'll post what I learn.

Thanks again,

Russell

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Joined: Mar 24 2003

Thank you for all your thoughtful comments. I appreciate them. Guess our next step is to get a "professional" over to rook us, I mean, give us an estimate. I'll post what I learn.

Thanks again,

Russell

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