Posts tagged with "Fireplace"

Reasons Your Gas Fireplace Isn’t Working

Gas fireplaces have several benefits: they’re easy to control, efficient at heating, and clean-burning. Every once in a while, however, there will be issues that need to be addressed. Below are some common problems with gas fireplaces and how to fix them:

Why Won’t My Gas Fireplace Start?

There are several issues that might prevent a gas fireplace from igniting. Here are some potential causes: Continue reading

Fireplace vs Stove: The Wood Burning Showdown

Wood is good!  But when it comes to deciding between different wood-burning solutions for heating your home, some comparison shopping is in order.  Today we’ll look at the features of wood fireplaces and stoves, and see how each “stacks up.”  Get it?  Wood…stacks up.  Anyway, let’s compare some of the key features to look out for when deciding between a whole hearth unit and a stove.

Purchase Price

fireplace

Winner

The price tag.  It’s a necessary “evil,” if you will.  While the following additional factors may ultimately be more important to you in the long run, your wallet may dictate what you decide to buy now.  Home heating is a valuable commodity, and as such carries prices to match.  For heating on a budget, you might consider a wood-burning fireplace.  For a standard factory-built fireplace, look to spend an average of $3,000 – $5,000 in the DC area.  Note that replacing/updating an old unit costs less, as it involves only swapping the hardware, however fabricating a fireplace from scratch will involve heavy construction and weighing the costs of different materials (i.e. stone vs. brick).  Wood stoves, on the other hand, are pricier from the outset.  These run at an average of $2,500 – $4,000 PLUS the cost of installation and venting.  You’ll also have to think about whether or not a special ventilation system is necessary for your stove if the home doesn’t already have fireplace venting.  Stoves can either be vented through a wall or chimney and the method matters to your wallet!
Winner: Fireplace.

Efficiency

wood stove

Winner

Each unit uses wood as the fuel source, which is easy to come by and relatively inexpensive when bought, but there are major differences in the efficiency levels of fireplaces and stoves.  Wood fireplaces are best used to heat a single room because during combustion, a fireplace takes in air from inside your home and may bring it in from outside to send smoke and CO up the chimney.  This can bring a draft through the house, so you benefit from less of the fire’s heat.  A stove, on the other hand, is potentially 50% more energy efficient, according to the EPA, and uses 1/3 less wood for heat while providing more warmth than its fireplace counterpart.
Winner: Stove.

Greenness

wood stove

Winner

We absolutely cannot forget about the environment when weighing our options between a fireplace and a stove.  A major player here is carbon monoxide, which is toxic when inhaled.  Burning wood is considered to be environmentally-safe and carbon-neutral, as emissions amount to only 0.00612 pounds of CO per hour, but should still be monitored.  Carbon monoxide emissions vary between the two types of units, with a lower risk of in-house pollution from a stove, as combustion gases flow straight up and out of a stovepipe instead of into your home.  A fireplace, however, might back draft some hazardous gases into your home, with the rest escaping through the chimney.  In either case, however, a certain degree of CO makes its way into the atmosphere, affecting the surrounding area.  It’s a tight race in this case, however when considering the larger environment and your own home, we have a clear winner.
Winner: Stove.

Aesthetics

fireplace

Winner

As one blogger we encountered put it, a wood stove in the corner of a room sometimes just looks “sad.”  Wood stoves are often big, freestanding metal units that simply look awkward when not in use and do little to add beauty to a room.  A nice compromise is to opt for a wood stove insert, which would occupy the fireplace area, but you might still want to have a standard wood fireplace for added beauty.  A wood fireplace is very much a centerpiece to the room it occupies.  Dressed with an elegant mantle, rustic bricks and/or gorgeous tiling, it brings joy to a room.  You can add to it seasonally, with decorative accents placed atop the mantle and much more.  And when that fire’s lit—boy you’ll be in for a treat!  Between the low crackling of wood and the glow of the flames, a fireplace brings the ambiance!
Winner: Fireplace.

Safety

Wood-burning comes with some hazards.  For instance, we know that both units rely on wood for fuel, which itself can carry mildew or pests.  We also know that burning wood can result in creosote buildup inside a chimney, a possible house fire risk.  With diligence, though, these problems can be managed.  Additionally, many times wood-burning fireplaces are open, sometimes with a mesh curtain for minimal protection.  This means that sparks can fly out, resulting in the potential for burns on your hands/arms or for your property to catch fire.  Along those same lines, wood-burning stoves are enclosed, usually by a glass door.  Without sacrificing heat, that closed door will usually keep you, your family and your property safe, with sparks only being problematic when tending to the fire.  It is important to realize, though, that although stove flames are sequestered behind closed doors, the unit itself will become quite hot and should not be touched to avoid further burn risks.  The safety levels of each type of unit are pretty equal when all is considered.
Winner: It’s a tie!

There are lots of things to think about when it comes to choosing how to heat your home.  Sticker price, efficiency, greenness and other factors are just the tip of the iceberg in choosing between a wood fireplace and stove.  The two compare quite closely, but the choice really depends on which features you value more.  No matter which one wins in your book, fireplace or stove, High’s Chimney has you covered!  Call us to discuss your needs today!

Why Your Fireplace is Smelly

That chimney stinks!Article contributed by Nayaug Chimney Service, a Connecticut Chimney Sweep and Chimney Repair Company.

Have you been dealing with an odor in your home that seems to be coming from your fireplace and chimney?  The good news is that putting up with bad smells doesn’t have to be a part of your fireplace experience.  First you need to identify what the root of the problem is; and from there, you should be able to get rid of the odor for good. There are four basic kinds of problems which could be causing your fireplace to stink, and they are:  Animals/birds, excess moisture/mold, creosote, and negative air pressure.

Animals and Birds

If you don’t have a chimney cap or if animals have chewed through the screen on your chimney cap, it’s very possible that creatures have taken up residence in your chimney.  Animals cause a variety of odorous problems.

Sometimes, creatures climb into a chimney and then can’t get out.  As a result, they slowly die, the body decomposes, flies enter the chimney, and a very strong odor permeates the chimney and enters into your home for up to eight weeks.  Call your trusty chimney sweep to remove the dead animal, if you want to get rid of the odor sooner rather than later.  While the chimney technician is there, go ahead and get a chimney cap installed or have your existing cap repaired.

Sometimes the smell in a stinky chimney comes from animal defecation.   Raccoons, for instance, often live in chimneys; and when they have babies, too, the accumulation of animal poop becomes a real problem.  It’s as though your chimney becomes a smelly sewage facility.  Get help from a chimney specialist to remove the animal(s), and secure your chimney cap, to prevent the problem from occurring again.

Usually when you hear birds in your chimney, it means that chimney swifts have nested in your chimney.  These birds are protected by the federal government, and there is a $10,000 fine for removing them.  You’ll have to wait until the migratory birds move on before you can deal with the bird droppings.  Be aware that it’s possible to get a very serious lung disease called histoplasmosis from bird droppings.  Allow a chimney technician to deal with the situation; they will know to use gloves and respirators for cleanup.  A chimney cap will prevent a recurring chimney swift problem.

Moisture and Mold

When a chimney develops a leak, mold begins to grow.  Mold is a serious health problem and can create terrible odors.  The mold needs to be removed, and the chimney needs to be properly sealed to prevent further leakage.  Talk to your chimney professional about waterproofing your chimney.

Creosote

Burning wood in your fireplace naturally results in creosote deposits in the chimney, though you’ll have less creosote buildup if you burn wood with low moisture content.  Excessive deposits of creosote can work their way into flue tile joints so that even after having your chimney cleaned, there’s an odor of burnt wood.  Humid air mixed with the creosote during the summertime is usually what causes the smell.  A damper which closes at the chimney top and operates with a pull chain cord can help to solve this problem by preventing outdoor drafts from carrying the odor into your home.  When it’s burning season, simply keep the top damper open.

Negative Air Pressure

Negative air pressure pulls air from your chimney into your home.  Whatever odors are in the chimney will also enter your home.  A change in air pressure can be caused by clothes dryers, kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans, windows, and other home improvements.

You may need to provide outside air to combustion appliances, to solve the problem.  Other steps you can take are:

  • Closing the damper when the fireplace isn’t used. This may not stop the odors because many dampers aren’t adequately sealed.
  • Installing a glass fire screen.
  • Installing a damper at the top of the chimney and keeping it closed when it’s not burn season.

When smells enter your home through the fireplace, you can’t find a better friend to help than a professional chimney sweep.

Wood burning Inserts for your Fireplace

Woodstove Inserts for your Fireplace

woodburning insertFew things are as satisfying as cozying up to a fireplace on a cold day. Unfortunately, fireplaces aren’t meant to run unsupervised, and cannot effectively heat your entire house. Luckily, there are ways to turn your fireplace into super efficient heating: wood burning fireplace inserts. These inserts are designed to fit easily into your existing fireplace, allowing you all the coziness of a fireplace with the added function of a woodstove.

Wood burning inserts are superior to fireplaces for efficiency and safety. These closed inserts maintain air flow and heat to allow steady and efficient wood combustion. This means slower burning wood that doesn’t need as frequent tending. Woodstove inserts provide superior safety by sectioning off the woodstove from the rest of the room. This means that sparks and gusts of wind are controlled, allowing your fire to burn peacefully. Due to this, properly used woodstove inserts do not require supervision, allowing you to go about your life while your woodstove keeps your home comfortable.

While it might seem that there are few differences between a fireplace and a woodstove, their efficiency differs drastically. For example, modern woodstoves use special technology to ignite fuel-rich gases before they travel out of your chimney. This increases efficiency, and minimizes emissions. Many also allow for burn adjustment for easy temperature control. They also are built with heat dispersion in mind. Most modern wood burning inserts come equipped with a blower, which helps spread heat throughout your home without the need for an external fan. Some models can even be used in a forced air system to allow heating of adjacent rooms.

Woodstove Insert Design

Exceptional functionality comes with exceptional design. From large viewing windows to carefully crafted exteriors, these fireplace inserts are meant to be beautiful. Many styles, designs and finishes exist, allowing you to choose the perfect style that will beautifully heat your home.

Renovations can be expensive and tiring, but as long as you have a preexisting masonry or metal chimney, woodstove inserts require very little installation. Most installations take a day or less to complete, meaning you can quickly and easily have your fireplace insert heating your home.

Hampton HI200 Small Wood Insert

Hampton HI200 Small Wood Insert

There are plenty of additional benefits to owning a wood burning fireplace insert. Depending on the make and model you choose, one insert can heat up to 2,200 square feet of space. Additionally, replacing your fireplace with a woodstove insert saves precious floor space a traditional wood stove would require. The woodstove replacing your fireplace also helps prevent children and pets from burning themselves on an exposed woodstove.

Wood burning inserts are an easy and efficient way to make your fireplace more productive and safer. If you would like to hear more about how a wood burning insert would work for you, contact our design specialists who can discuss your situation and help you decide what would work best for you.

The Difference Between Fireplaces and Fireplace Inserts

What’s the difference between Fireplaces and Fireplace Inserts?

There is a lot of confusion about these terms. After all, a “fireplace” ought to be any place you can have a fire, right? Yep, but there is a difference anyway and today I’ll lay it out for everyone.

Open Fireplace example

An Example of an Open Fireplace

 

What is a fireplace?

When folks talk about a “fireplace” they generally mean an open fireplace. This usually means an opening in the wall with a flue above it so you can have a fire indoors. The key here is that it’s open. To confuse the matter more, a lot of fireplaces have glass doors on the front. You might point out that it’s not open anymore, and you’d be right, but it’s still “a fireplace.”

Types of Fireplaces

Fireplaces can be either masonry fireplaces or factory-built fireplaces (also called prefabricated or “prefabs.)

Masonry Fireplace

A masonry fireplace is almost always built of bricks. There are some specialty types that are more exotic and use refractory materials, but 99.9% of them are made with bricks.

Factory Built Fireplace

A factory-built fireplace is a metal box with refractory bricks inside manufactured to be framed into a house, without masonry. Sometimes they are gas fireplaces, but they are often for burning wood. These are perfectly safe when installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The Heatalator

There’s also sort of “an in-between” situation, commonly called the Heatalator. Heatalator is a brand name which is applied to products which are generally like it. Just as all tissues aren’t Kleenex brand, it’s pretty common to just ask for a Kleenex and everybody understands. The same is true with Heatalator. It’s a metal firebox which is built into a masonry structure. Even though it was built in a factory, this is still considered a masonry fireplace. This is because of clearance and heat transfer requirements etc. Too much information? Suffice to say Heatalators are also fireplaces.

Fireplace Inserts

regency alterra CI1250-ASo what’s a fireplace insert? In a word, it’s a stove. Either gas or wood, it’s a stove which is inserted into an open fireplace.

Fireplace inserts are almost exclusively installed into masonry fireplaces, though there are a few very special models which are listed to be installed into prefabricated fireplaces, such as the Regency Alltera CI1250.

A fireplace insert must always be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and listings or you’ll put your house in serious jeopardy. Following these two bits of advice will go a long way toward keeping you and your family warm and safe at the same time!

  • Insist that your stove have a properly-sized liner all the way from the top of the stove out of the top of the existing chimney. Click here for more information about chimney liners.
  • Insist on knowing that any insert you buy is listed for installation into your fireplace.

Gas Log Fireplaces vs. Wood Burning Fireplaces

The gas log fireplace has a number of advantages over a traditional wood burning fireplace. While some of the reasons might appear to be obvious others might turn a few curious glances. Gas fireplaces do not have the same amount of realism and the impact of a wood burning fireplace, but with added features gas fireplaces are widely considered realistic and beneficial enough to exceed the expectations of the hearth design. Let’s take a look at the tale of the tape for gas vs. wood fireplaces.

fireplace table

Ambiance

Nothing mimics a wood burning fireplace. The natural crackling and popping and sizzling of sap and the sweet, harsh olfactory effect of a wood fire triggers a physical sensation and psychological relaxation similar to the sounds and smells of the ocean. However, fumes can become toxic, crackling sap sends arcs of sparks off in random directions and a slowly dying fire leaves embers pulsing for hours waiting for an incendiary mistake. While gas fireplaces lack many of the features that create the allure of a wood burning fireplace, the gas fireplace is safer, easier to use and more attractive than most wood stoves and wood burning fireplaces.

Wood & Gas Logs

gas logs

Artificial logs in a gas fireplace.

A gas fireplace offers a level of realism that doesn’t take away from the effects that its traditional counterpart offers. Because of the advancement in technology gas fireplaces offer an authentic looking hand painted ceramic log that comes complete with texture and charring. Well designed gas fireplaces have been commonly mistaken for wood burning fires. Although a wood burning fireplace has burning wood and a gas fireplace burner emits flames from just below the logs the design mimics real flames more reliably than wood logs that often burn inconsistently.

Different gas log manufacturers create gas logs with varying processes and materials. Gas fireplace logs are manufactured of ceramic that has been treated for flame, reinforced with steel supports, hand painted for realistic textures and molded from casts of wood logs. Some gas fireplace logs are also made of a heat resistant foam similar to the architectural foam used for the decorative exterior of homes. Foam refractory logs are lighter and easier to remove to clean and much less expensive but it is also easier to crack the external shell.

The Fire

fireplace screen

A screen protects your home from flying embers.

Because a gas fireplace doesn’t operate on electricity gas burns at a reduced cost compared to a standard home heater. While fireplace wood can be expensive, wood can also be found free. A gas fire will burn until it is turned off and will simply cool down until the next time it is used. In comparison, a wood burning fireplace has to burn down and go out, before it will be safe to leave it unattended with glowing embers dangerously hot several hours after flames have burned out.

A gas fireplace also offers more flexibility in temperature and the appearance of the flames. The fire level is easily adjusted to deliver the amount of warmth and aesthetic appeal that a home needs. When it gets too hot a gas fire can be instantly lowered or be increased when the room gets too hot. With a wood burning fireplace a fire cannot be adjusted in a matter of moments to get the room the temperature to a comfortable place. While a talented use of the poker and flue can affect the heat of a wood burning fireplace it is certainly easier and more reliable to simply push a button and adjust flame height.

Maintenance

dirty fireplace

The remains of a wood fire.

There are also dangers and headaches associated with a wood burning stove. For example, a wood burning stove needs to be cleaned after each use or at least often enough to remove fine silt ash. Ash build up can be messy and difficult if cleaned poorly or left unattended and the fine ash can ruin clothing, air conditioners and get everywhere. Burning wood fireplaces also generate creosote and a chimney must be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure that no chimney fires occur. A gas fireplace will only need to be checked periodically for carbon soot or a leak after a forceful storm, there is no cause for alarm when setting it up for operation.

Ease of Use

gas fireplace

A glimpse at the wiring hidden beneath a gas fireplace.

Ease of use should be noted as well. Many gas fireplaces keep a standing pilot like gas stoves and heater. When the gas fireplace is used a button pushed or knob rotated will have flames at a perfectly selected height and heat emitting from the hearth almost instantly. With any gas fireplace a manual control valve is operated like a barbecue. However, remote control options provide transmitters that function like a hand-held remote, wall switch, automatic thermostat and with a timer.

Building a Fire

wood pile in the snow

It’s a cold trip to the woodpile in the snow!

The wood burning fireplace must be built with lighter kindling setup around and below wood chunks stacked below the logs that will be burned. A wood fire must begin with a single flame nursed to the point that kindling burns and grows to burn chunks that burn to ignite actual heat producing logs. Wood fires are never easy to start and a poorly stacked fireplace can ignite, and go out only to be rebuilt until it burns properly to ignite the fireplace logs.

In the winter, a person will need to go out and pick up wood and kindling to build a fire and keep it going. While that might not be too bad in 50 degrees, when it is snowing or a blizzard outside it might become a problem. With a gas fireplace there is no need to worry about tracking down wood as long as gas is running into the home.

Ventilation

chimney

Wood burning fireplaces and vented gas log fireplaces both require a chimney or similar ventilation to remove dangerous chemicals created by burning fuels.

Wood burning fireplaces and vented gas log fireplaces both require a chimney or similar ventilation to remove dangerous chemicals created by burning fuels. Direct vent and B-vent gas fireplaces are capable of safely venting through horizontal ventilation flues that offer interior design versatility unavailable with wood burning fireplaces that can only vent vertically. Ventless gas fireplaces are capable of burning in a reduced vent or vent-free environment by minimizing carbon emissions and detecting oxygen levels within the control valve.

While wood burning fireplaces were a great item in their time they don’t hold up to the efficiency that a gas fireplace can offer. If your having either type of fireplace installed, consider a stress-free remodeling company to help improve the entire room from floor to ceiling.

Ventless Gas Fireplace Basics

It is much easier and more attractive to use ventless gas fireplace logs today as safety and log designs have become much more realistic. During the coldest winter months, sitting next to a fire serves both aesthetic psychological warmth and real physical warmth. Electric and gas heaters offer no character and are hideous boxy structures tolerated for the warmth they bring. The same natural gas or propane BTU’s running through a gas log fireplace brings warmth with the augmented interior design of the fireplace design enjoyed year round.

Ventless Gas Fireplace

In the past, having a chimney and proper ventilation was the only way to enjoy the benefits of a fireplace. Dangerous creosote build-up, hazardous fumes, variable flame control valves and spark arrestors were completely necessary to enjoy a fireplace. Wood storage and the scorpions, snakes and bugs that live in stored wood were acceptable annoyances; part and parcel of enjoying the year-round hearth. New advancements in technology now allow a ventless gas log fireplace without dangerous safety concerns and without compromising the beauty and added décor a fireplace adds to any room.

A ventless gas log fireplace creates the warmth and the design of a conventional fireplace without the need for a chimney. Vent-free gas fireplaces are one of the more energy efficient options due to BTU limits that maximize heat retention. There are a large number of choices regarding style, size, color, “wood” selection, non-traditional modern designs and valve controls including remotes and wall-switches for all gas fireplace burners.

Gas log fireplaces in general have easy to use controls that include simple igniters similar to a gas range and gas bbq grill. Ventless gas log fireplace burners are almost always used indoors and tend to use variable remote controls, wall-switches and thermostatic controls that could not last long outdoors. Indoors and lacking a flue’s pull most vent free gas fireplace burners utilize a standing pilot to avoid relighting the burner for each use. Remote receivers are cleverly hidden inside hollow ceramic logs and decorative pine cones. Logs are hand-painted for a maximum attempt at realism.

The ventless gas log fireplace offers an efficient and instant solution for a heat source without the complex designs necessary for vented gas fireplaces and wood burning fireplaces. Set up and installation are so easy that homeowners deciding on a ventless gas fireplace with access to a gas line could decide to purchase a fireplace for a room and be enjoying the hearth that evening. For the homeowner deciding to use vent free gas logs the solution is an effective source of heat because although gas volume is limited there is nowhere for heat to go but inside the home.

Vent-free gas log arrangements combined with BTU limits make gas fireplaces very clean with low fumes resulting from fuel consumption. Other power sources like electricity or batteries are not necessary. Additional features for gas log fireplaces are conveniently available that may use other energy sources but gas is inexpensive everywhere.

Easy installation of ventless gas logs primarily means there is no expense for installation of a chimney. Building a traditional fireplace generally includes a construction firm for building once a design is provided. An engineer or architect is sub-contracted to make plans submitted to the city bringing an inspector to the site. Once approved the design is built but a separate permit, inspection and license is needed to cut through a roof and re-seal a roof around a fireplace vent. Again: design, plans, city, construction and inspection. The process can become very expensive. Many homeowners value the wood burning fireplace with crackling flames, popping sap and real woodsy smells over the expense. New-construction makes the process easier but an existing home will spend a lot of money building an indoor fireplace.

wood burning fireplace

A wood burning fireplace will often have a steel flue running through the chimney often built to mimic a rustic appearance. Above the home a termination cap spreads emerging heat and fumes while displacing falling rain or dirt. A wood burning fireplace with a damaged flue can be very expensive to repair as the rustic décor is dismantled rock by rock looking for the faulty seal and it has become typical to install vent free gas logs into existing fireplaces rather than incur the expense of repairing or cleaning chimneys with broken seals or clogged with deposit from years of burning gases and wood.

The vent free gas log fireplace simply needs some space in a room and a gas line. Installing ventless gas logs in a home without a fireplace includes purchasing a vent free firebox, building or buying a mantle and the gas logs with a burner, valve and logs. The vent free firebox is designed to refract heat and protect any materials used in the construction of a wall or fireplace mantle around the vent free firebox. Sitting in front of a fireplace we only see the inner firebox decoratively lined with brick pattern. With a protective vent free gas log firebox a fireplace mantle can be constructed with drywall, wood or cabinet particle board which would otherwise be in danger of burning.

Ventless gas logs are designed to burn safely in the home with no ventilation or reduced ventilation and must always have an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) and a thermocouple to ensure against gas dangers. A manual safety pilot contains a continuously burning flame which can be extinguished during long periods of unuse. The pilot light allows a fireplace control valve to turn the fireplace burner off and on without the use of an ignition and properly primed thermocouple every time the fireplace is enjoyed. Manual control valves work very much like the valve used to control heat on a barbecue grill and are cheaper than valves with a remote.

The remote safety pilot uses a remote transmitter to turn a valve open or closed, on and off using a hand held remote like a television control. The pilot stays lit and the manual valve spins at the behest of the remote transmitter and a receiver hidden within the fireplace. Finally some ventless gas log fireplace remote controls use a variable valve that can control how much the valve spins open and closed providing flame height adjustment via remote transmitter. Wall switches and thermostatic controls are remotes that operate on an on/off fireplace valve with high and low setting manually pre-set on the valve of the fireplace.

As with anything, it is always wise to exercise caution. Always read the operation manual and ensure the ventless gas log fireplace is properly installed within the insulated ventless firebox. Learning about the risks is one of the best ways to prevent accidents. Vent-free gas log fireplaces have become very ornate with decorations rivaling the realism of vented gas fireplaces and wood burning fires. In addition ventless gas log fireplaces have recently evolved into the contemporary designs of the modern home with fire effects that do not strive to mimic to appearance of wood but enhance the beauty of light with crushed colored fire glass and both natural stone and geo-metric shapes. The growth is tremendous because the vent-free gas log is safe, economical and effective for both its beauty and pragmatic use as a heater for the home.

How Do You Stop Smoke From Crossing Over From One Fireplace Chimney To Another?

If you have two fireplaces with flues running up the same chimney structure, (like the picture) you are often a candidate for the problem of smoke crossover. Smoke crossover is when one chimney is breathing out smoke from the fire, and the other chimney is breathing in outside air to equalize the pressure in the home. The inhaling chimney flue is also sucking back in smoke from the other nearby chimney.

Many people assume closing the metal damper on the unused fireplace will stop this smoke crossover, but that is not the case. Dampers are not tight enough to stop this air draw. The smoky fireplace needs to be air sealed to stop the smoke. That is why a chimney balloon is needed in the unused fireplace to stop the air draw inward through the second flue.

You would measure your fireplace flue for a chimney balloon and then install that chimney balloon low and tight in the fireplace that is drawing smoke. Air sealing the smoky fireplace with the balloon forces the house to find another location (i.e. windows and doors and other envelope penetrations) to draw outside air in at where there is no smoke. This keeps the fire burning in the one fireplace and keeps the smoke outside where it belongs.

This troubleshooting article was submitted with permission by Chimney Balloon USA.