Q: My fireplace is drafty. How can I correct this problem?
The most likely cause is a poorly sealing damper. Spend some money on a high quality fireplace damper for a tight seal. You'll recover the cost in your heating bill after two or three winters.
Q: My fireplace smokes a bit when I start a fire. How do I fix this?
If the problem corrects itself once the fire gets going, you've simply got a cold chimney.
Read More Cold air sinks. You can probably feel the air coming down when you arrange the wood. You need to warm the chimney up. Roll up some newspaper tightly and light the end. Hold your makeshift torch up the flue so the lit end is past the damper. This should help warm the chimney enough to reverse the draft. You'll be able to hear the reversal when it happens.
Q: My fireplace smokes constantly. How can I correct this problem?
One usual reason a fireplace will smoke lack of air. It's easy to check if the problem is lack of air. Just open a nearby window to create a draft and see what happens. If this is the problem, the air coming in the window will feed the fire and allow it to burn hotter and cleaner, sending smoke up the chimney. In an airtight home, you may need to open a window just a smidge any time you have a fire. An upstairs window is best
Q: I tried that. Lack of air isn't the problem. What now?
Another equally likely problem that's a little harder to check for is blockage. Shine a flashlight on the damper to make sure that it is opening fully. Shine the light up the chimney to see if you can see any blockage. You may need to get on the roof and shine the light down the chimney as well. Remove any leaves or birds' nests or whatever else you see. If this doesn't work, it's time to call the chimney sweep and get a professional opinion
Q: Can I improve air flow without opening a window?
Yes. If your house is too airtight to get a good fire going without opening a window, you can install an "outside air kit." This kit is just what it sounds like. It draws in air from the outside to help the fire burn. You can keep all your windows closed. You can get this kit from the manufacturer of your prefab fireplace or from a brick yard for your masonry fireplace. Many certified chimney sweeps sell them and will install them as well
Q: Do the glass doors need to be closed if I use an outside air kit?
No. You can leave the doors open if you like. But since the air kit provides all the air the fire needs, you can also close the doors. You've increased your options.
Q: Should I leave the glass doors open or closed?
When you're just starting a fire, you want the glass doors to be all the way open. The fire needs plenty of air so that it can burn hot and clean. A cool fire will produce more smoke and creosote buildup in the chimney. Once you can see embers (glowing coals) in the wood, it's safe to close the glass doors partially to control the fire. When the fireplace is not in use, keep the glass doors close (and the damper too!) You'll save on your heating bill.
Q:What is Maximum steady state efficiency?
This figure represents in percentage, the absolute best amount of useable heat the fireplace can produce. Maximum steady state efficiency is determined by specific test conditions that include burning the fireplace until the fireplace and flue gas (exhaust) temperatures reach equilibrium, which means that there is no further change in temperatures. Temperatures, taken from a specific location, reflect the amount of heat being exhausted, which is then subtracted from the predetermined input of the burner. The remaining amount of heat represents the highest amount of heat that the fireplace can transfer into the surrounding area. Example, our natural gas stove, the GDS50 has a BTU input of 44,000 BTU. The maximum efficiency is 84%. 44,000 x 84% = 36,960 BTU output.
Q:What are BTU's?
BTU's (British Thermal Units) are a standard of measurement which represent the heat value of any type of energy used to create heat. The amount of fuel that a fireplace will consume per hour is calculated with the BTU value of the fuel it uses to determine the input of that fireplace. BTU values of any type of energy are determined by the actual amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one pound of water, by one degree Fahrenheit.
Q:Do I need a chimney to vent a fireplace?
All wood stoves and fireplaces require a chimney, either a masonry or A vent stainless steel chimney and in the case of our oil stoves, L vent is also acceptable. The diameter of the chimney must match the size of the fireplace flue collar to effectively vent the products of combustion. Consequently, an existing chimney may need to be lined with a stainless steel liner to meet venting requirements of a specific fireplace. Gas fireplaces that fall under the category of B vent , or natural draft fireplaces, also require either a chimney that is lined with a flexible aluminum or stainless steel liner, or they can be vented using B vent if no chimney exists. Direct vented or vent free fireplaces do not require a traditional chimney.
Q:Are gas fireplaces safe?
Yes! Some of our gas fireplaces must have the ability to shut off the flow of gas if there is no flame to burn it off. This is where the self generating millivolt system comes in. The millivolts energize a magnetic coil within the gas valve which holds the valve open. Should the pilot flame extinguish, the millivolts will stop generating, releasing the coil and closing the gas valve.
Q:What does zero clearance mean?
Zero clearance is a term used to describe a certain fireplace's ability to be enclosed completely by combustible building material that can be positioned right up against the body of the fireplace. That is the back, top, bottom and sides. The front area is designed to radiate heat and therefore must be given adequate clearance to combustibles. In this case, objects such as furniture, should be kept a minimum of 48" away. With the exception of our stoves and inserts, all our other models are designed, tested and approved to be installed with zero clearance to combustible framing.