Question: My house is a ranch with a fireplace in the living room only. This living room seems particularly hard to heat. A chimney sweep was just out and said that my chimney is too short and that the cap on top of the chimney is not doing any good. He suggested a directional cap, preheating the fireplace, and basically ventless logs. I spoke to a fireplace supplier who suggested I insert a piece of steel plate to in effect lower the fireplace area and thus extend the chimney. I'm now thoroughly confused. I would like to maintain a wood-burning fireplace. Any suggestions? Answer: If you were going to use vent-free logs then there would be no need for a directional cap. Preheating is always a good idea to start the chimney drafting upwards. In fact, I always suggest a fire be started very HOT in order to establish a bed of coals and warm the chimney. If the fireplace smokes out the top of the opening after it's been going for awhile, then using the "smoke shield" by dropping the fireplace height might help. A set of glass doors may also help, as the frame size will make your opening smaller. Extending the height of the chimney could help...at least 4 feet to do any good. If the smoke is wind related then a "Vacu-Stak" or other aero cap which uses the wind to your favor might be good.