Question: Hi, I,m from England and I have been very pleased to read all your helpful advice because I opened up my fireplace and began burning coal recently. I learned to light the damned thing eventually, and had a great fire for a few weeks. The chimney was swept, and the Sweep confirmed I had a good draft. Then suddenly last week it changed. Now I cannot get a proper fire going. Only the intense, blue flickering flames are there. Its as if the fire is getting blown out with a down-draft. Can you tell me why this should suddenly be? In England we don't have dampers, whatever they are! So I aren't too sure about your tip re balling newspaper up. Answer: Draft can change with the weather. Humid and warmer days create less updraft. Less updraft will mean that the fire will not burn as hot. If it was a true downdraft, you would be poisoned by the fumes, so we have to assume that it is just a slowing of the updraft. This is probably either related to: 1. The weather 2. A different "batch" of coal - i.e., size, shape, gas content 3. Possibly the grate needs clinkers and ash removed.