Fireplace smell? Details Inside


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Old 09-02-14, 09:06 AM
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Fireplace smell? Details Inside

Hello there,
So we spent our first winter in our new home and noticed that when we have a nice fire in the family/great room it can smell a bit like the remnants of the fire for days after. We had the chimney swept and at the recommendation installed a chimney top damper, removing the old metal one in the firebox. That did not seem to help 100% and I'm not sure what else can be done "inexpensively". The room itself is a very large open space where the upstairs hallway overlooks the room.

I'm tempted to get one of these balloons that fill up and get stuck up the chimney but am also going to reseal a little gap on the lower part of the glass firescreen.

Basically at a loss for why it would still smell, we do have a radon mitigation system and a very well sealed home but even opening a window slightly does not seem to help.

Ideas, opinions, options, all will be considered. Thanks.
 
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Old 09-02-14, 11:45 AM
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Well sealed homes and a naturally drafted fireplace just never work well. If your chimney is on the outside of the house it is even worse. (??) And, there is another issue. As a fire is going out there is less heat to maintain the draft exhausting the combustion products up and out. One of those products is carbon monoxide (CO). Opening a window is an old time solution that ignores the risks associated with the end of fire CO production. It worked better when houses were very leaky, but modern very tight homes have little room for error.

First, is the chimney on an outside wall and exposed to the cold?
Do you have a basement?
Was the house tested for air leakage? If not, tell us how the walls and ceiling are constructed.

Is there the possibility of adding a dedicated air source for the fireplace, thus allowing the front to be air tight?

Bud
 
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Old 09-02-14, 12:20 PM
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Yes the chimney sits in front of the house, exposed. It is one of the features I actually love about the home go figure.

Yes there is a basement, partially finished. The side where the chimney is is just concrete, there is an access there for ash. Also we have a natural gas furnace that vents through the chimney as well through a separate pipe of course.

The home is all 2x6 with sheetrock and about 10-11" of insulation. Pics from the home before we bought it.

Front of home


Room in question, like I said it's large. This is from the second floor hallway
 
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Old 09-02-14, 01:16 PM
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Nice place, but I agree, the only way to eliminate the smoky fireplace smell is to stop burning wood and seal the front of the unit.
 
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Old 09-02-14, 01:27 PM
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Well the plus is that the owner has a gas line run in the basement near hear so a simple flex pipe and gas insert can be added at some point. I love burning wood too much so I guess I'm stuck with the smell for the winter. The glass doors are new so I'm really curious about one of these.
 
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Old 09-02-14, 02:26 PM
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They also make sealed combustion wood inserts and I'm like you, I love burning wood. I have a glass front Regency wood stove but my house at present is far from well sealed.

Here's the science behind drafting and house pressures. During cold months the warm air inside a home is lighter than the cold air outside. Although we often refer to the warm air going up, it is actually the invading cold air that pushes it up. Since the air leaking in (and there are still plenty of air leaks) must equal the air leaking out (or up the chimney) a pressure gradient developes with a positive pressure up high and a negative pressure down low. Somewhere inbetween is a neutral zone.

As windows or doors are opened and closed that neutral zone shifts up and down. Much more so in a tight home. With the fireplace below the neutral plane it's opening is located in a negative pressure zone. With the fire going strong the draft far exceeds the house pressure. but as the fire dies out, it is still generating lots of CO, but not enough heat to overcome those house pressures, especially with the large masonry chimney exposed to a real cold night.

If you wish to open a window to help the situation, open one in the basement, but leave it open until the next day when you are sure the fire is out.

Also, if that gas furnace is naturally drafted (no fan assist) the pressure changes from running the fireplace may be strong enough to backdraft the furnace exhaust. I do that type of worst case pressure testing and any energy auditor in your area should be able to do so as well.

PS, really looks nice and even though a sealed combustion wood insert will cost an arm and a leg, it is a better solution for a fireplace in an tight home.

Bud
 
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Old 09-03-14, 10:40 AM
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But I love wood so much, who wouldn't love this Thank you for all your inputs.

 
 

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