smoke from the fireplace in the kitchen!


Old 12-30-99, 01:23 PM
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Red face

Hi -
We have a fireplace that is between our kitchen and our living room - it opens on both sides. OUr house is a California Ranch House (we just moved in in August), and although the heat works well in the bedrooms in the back of the house, the front, where the kitchen/living room (both with high ceilings I might add) is always cold. (in this frigid California 50 degree weather!). Anyway, we have started to have fires at night, which warm the rooms BEAUTIFULLY. However, last night (about the 3rd or 4th time we had a fire), smoke started coming out of the fan/vent for the built in grill that is attached to the fireplace. It is a nice looking grill, but according to our landlord a pain to clean, and we have never used it. I am perplexed at why it suddenly did that -- my husband's reaction was to tape cardboard over the fan.
I wonder if somehow it is related to the fact that I turned on the fan that is over the stove, as I was cooking dinner. The stove is in the middle of the kitchen, and it's fan has a big hood that just goes right up to the ceiling.
Any suggestions? Possibly a chimney sweep (we didn't have it done when we moved in, and I don't know when it was last done).

Thanks a lot!

Old 12-30-99, 09:55 PM
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Hi Lydia

Thanks for your complete and well detailed explaination of the problem.
Sure helps me out. Now let me try to help you out.

Based of the fact that the fireplace is centered between the kitchen and living room and also has a BBQ, the most likely cause is a restricted flu.

Having a well burning huge fire going, add in a slightly restricted flu, smoke and fumes could begin to back up. Best to have the chimmney sweep service company to it and clean as needed.

Next thing you mentioned was turning on that range overhead exhaust fan. There the smae problem, as mentioned above may exist, except this time the fan is creating a backdraft, do to the possiblility of a flu restriction.

Covering up the BBQ vent will only be masking up a symptom. The vents may just be combined into one restricted or undersized flu.

It may also be an incorrectly installed spark arrestor or rain or vent cap on the top of the chimney. Could be a tree above the chimney with low hanging branches.

If none of these visable signs are present,
contact a chimney sweeping company if your not sure.

It's also possible, the flu or chimeny may have one or more seperations or cracks. This would allow smoke to escape and enter or backup into other areas.

If these where not checked after the recent earthquakes, I would suggest they be done.

You may want to inspect this yourself by entering the attic, if it's possible and safe to do so.

In regards to attempting to heat vaulted ceilings, heat raises, so it takes tons more heat to warm such a room or rooms. Just the way it is having vaulted or high ceilings. Nice to look at, costly to heat.

Good Luck & Welcome to California too.

TomBartco Enterprises.
Trade: Natural Gas Energy Consultant & Technician.
Appliance Service & Repairs Rep.
Vocation: Saw & Tool Sharpening.
Accurate Power Equipment Company.

Personal Quote:"Drive Safely. The Life You Save
May Be Your Own."

Old 12-30-99, 10:30 PM
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Thanks so much Tom, for the VERY helpful (and VERY prompt!) reply!

I think a chimney sweep is the answer. I was actually up on the roof yesterday when my 8 year old threw my 5 year old's shoe up there. and there are no trees or obstructions on the chimney that I could see. The last earthquake we had was centered about 25 miles from here, so I doubt there was much damage (although I imagine a chimney sweep would be able to tell).

And yes, I knew that the cardboard over the vent was NOT a solution, but it was nice for my husband to hear an EXPERT say it (instead of his WIFE).

thanks again!
Happy new year!

Old 12-31-99, 11:19 AM
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Hi Lydia, well firstly cardboard over a vent is also dangerouse because even though its only smoke it also contains heat albut a small amount depending on how close to the fire the vent is if it is very close then the heat will be more, this can be built up because the vent has card oner it , this inturn will heat the card up and could set it alight first smoldering then seting on fire, try using a metal plate if at all possible. as Tombarco said the fan over the cooker forces the air and fumes up and out into the chimney but in doing so the air that replaces it is drawn back into the room through open windows doors and vents, the most likely cause as already mentioned is a restricted flu get this swept first, if you dont have a cowling on the chimney pot then check that a bird has not nested there and the nest has fallen down the pot, but first choice is the sweep, as to the room being cold well thats because the heat is also going straight up the chute with the smoke, as you know heat rises and as the smoke and heat rise cold air is drawn into the room to replace the old air so you will have a continual circulation of cold air,it might be worth thinking about fitting a boiler to the fire side (if this is at all possible) and fit a couple of radiators to the far walls under windows is normally the best place, Hope this helps a little, Handyman

Remember that your eyes are your windows on the world, so protect them!!
Old 12-31-99, 11:45 AM
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Thanks Handyman!
I think your answer may just persuade my husband to take the cardboard down (I won't even TELL you about the fire fiasco we had when he vacuumed up ashes .... that weren't quite out yet).
The fire actually heats the rooms very well (it is those darn high ceilings - they are GREAT in the summer - keep the house nice and cool, but not so great in the winter -- luckily we haven't had much rain this year). Anyway, I may climb up on the roof and just take a look at the chimney before I call the sweep. (do you think I can get Dick Van Dyke? ha ha)
Have a very happy new year!


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