Q&A Downdrafts and Odors

QandA Posted By QandA, Oct 5, 2001 at 2:20 PM

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  1. QandA

    New Member 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 27, 2012

    I purchased a Regency fireplace insert 18 months ago thinking it would solve a downdraft problem. While I enjoy the insert, it does not stop the downdraft. I have found that the downdraft occurs during damp, calm days.

    The people installed the insert did not install a "direct flue control". When I questioned them about this type of device they shrugged their shoulders and informed that one was not needed. I have also contacted three contractors who examined my house and informed me that I need a taller chimney based upon the fact that I live on the reverse slope of a hill which has some tall trees on it. Most of these contractors want me to raise my chimney an additional five feet (estimated cost $1000), or install a exhaust fan in a new chimney ($1200). One contractor even suggested a fan system used on most large restaurants (for another $1000 bucks).

    Given these conditions would I benefit from installing a top mounted damper? I figured that this may stop the cold air rushing down the chimney. I have also read on your web page about an outside air duct, my chimney has a door which was used to remove the old ashes, should I keep this open to act as a outside air duct?

    I really like the insert, I just want to stop the stink!


    NO, do not keep the outside clean out open.

    There is little chance that raising the chimney height will solve this problem. The downdraft is probably caused by a negative pressure in the home...read more about this at: hearth.com/what/chimney.html

    The insert should have been installed with a sealed direct connection to the damper area. What this means is that there should be a sheet metal block off plate above the insert and the pipe from the insert should run through this and then at least 5 feet up from the insert...

    If this is done right and sealed, it will reduce the problems from a reversing chimney.

    A chimney cap can also help because the rain getting into your chimney makes it smell more.

    An exhaust fan would solve the problem, but it's expensive and require electricity.

    A stainless steel full-flue lining installed correctly would also reduce the problem smell..but again about $1,000.

    I'd confirm that the installation that you have conforms to the manual and local codes and then install the chimney cap...hopefully that will reduce the problem smell. Also, use some "fireplace deodorant" which you can purchase at your local fireplace shop.
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