Ten Most Common Reasons a Fire Won’t Start in a Fireplace – Pt 2


There can be a number of common reasons a fire won’t ignite in your fireplace.

Are you having difficulty getting a fire to ignite in your fireplace?  There are many possible reasons for this frustrating fireplace problem.  See the issues listed below as well as those mentioned in Part 1 of this two-part series.


6 – The Chimney Draft isn’t Adequate


If there isn’t enough of a draft in the chimney, it’s difficult to get a fire going due to lack of oxygen.  There are several reasons a chimney doesn’t provide enough of a draft.  If you don’t have a chimney cap, an animal may have built a nest in your chimney, causing blockage.  Branches may be obstructing the chimney.  If you do have a chimney cap, it could be clogged with soot or external debris on the netting.  Our professional chimney sweeps can handle these issues as well as any other problems you have with your chimney.


Another possibility is that the chimney isn’t tall enough.  It should project above the roof at least 3 feet, and the chimney should be at least 2 feet higher than anything that’s within 10 feet of it.  The overall height of the chimney should be at least 10 feet.  If your chimney is too short, it becomes more apparent when the wind blows since the wind can more easily blow down the chimney.


You can increase the height of the chimney by a few feet, as needed.  Another option, though a quite costly one, is to invest in a motorized draft inducer which fits at the top of the chimney and sucks out the smoke.


7 – The Chimney is Filled with Cold Air


Especially when a chimney is on the outside of the home, there is a possibility that there is a cold column of air pushing down toward the fire.  Since the fireplace doesn’t have enough of a draft, it could be difficult to light; and the smoke can flow into the house instead of up the chimney.  The cold needs to be dispelled to some extent before the smoke can flow in the right direction.


An action that many people take, though it should be done with extreme caution, is to light a rolled up newspaper and hold it up near the damper, so that heat from the makeshift torch can dispel the cold air.


8 – Your Home is Too Tightly Sealed


A lot of air is required for a fire to burn.  Air is flowing up your chimney in large volumes, which means that there must be a sufficient air supply in the home to both move up and out of the chimney and provide oxygen for the fire.  Sometimes modern, energy-efficient homes are insulated and weather-stripped to the extent that fireplaces become sluggish and smoky.  Another problem this issue can cause is a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.  The problem can usually be temporarily relieved by opening a window, but a permanent solution is needed; our chimney professionals can help.


9 – Inadequate Flue Size


A problem with improper flue size most typically occurs when a wood-burning stove or pellet stove is installed and the chimney is connected to the appliance.  A flue must be within the range specified by the appliance’s manufacturer.  It’s always best to get the help of a professional when installing wood-burning appliances.

Chimney Cleaning

This chimney is full of build-up that can prevent you from properly starting a fire.


10 – The Chimney is Dirty


Has it been a long time since you had your chimney cleaned?  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests that chimneys should be inspected and cleaned annually, to ensure safe use of the fireplace.  Yet sometimes this step is neglected.  It could be that you moved into a pre-owned home and weren’t aware of the poor condition of the fireplace.  In any case, it is possible for the soot buildup to restrict proper venting of the fireplace.


There are actually many other possible reasons that a fireplace doesn’t operate correctly.  Sometimes it requires the help of a professional to figure out what the issue is.  Contact our professionals today for a chimney or dryer vent cleaning and inspection or for any other chimney and venting issues.


Read Pt 1 of this article to find out more common reasons you may have issues getting a fire started in your fireplace.


Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
formerly Nayaug Chimney Services, LLC
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110
Phone: 860-233-5770


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