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Where to Locate a Fireplace to Minimize Backdrafting

wood fireplaces installed by pros in highland wisconsonIf you’re building a new home or doing some renovations to your current one and are ready to start planning for a new fireplace, you’ve got several important matters to consider.  One of them is where to locate the fireplace to minimize backdrafting.

You probably know this, but it bears stating: a fireplace/chimney system works on air flow.  In ideal situations, that flow is upwards, meaning into the firebox and up the chimney.  In other cases, you get a backdraft, which is when the flow of air coming down the chimney is stronger than the flow going up it.  In these cases, all kinds of problems can result including ash blowing into the house, billows of smoke in the room, and a potential fire caused by flying embers.

In talking about minimizing backdrafting by the location of the fireplace, we’re assuming that the fireplace and chimney you’ll be using are in good repair and operate according to spec.

Where to install a fireplace to minimize backdrafting

Smoke typically rises, and that’s why fireplaces work.  However, subtle changes in air pressure within the fireplace air-flow path can cause air to flow in the wrong direction.

The best location for a new fireplace is on the side of the home that gets the most wind during the cold (burning) season.  This wind will create a pressurized effect in the air, which will draw the flow of air up the chimney.  You may have to do a little research or question-asking to determine from which direction winter wind is most prevalent, but it will be worth it.

Conversely, were you to place the fireplace on the side of the home with minimal wind, it could create a low-pressure situation in which air is pushed down the chimney and into the house.

When thinking of the “windy” side of the house, take into account trees or other structures that might impede air flow.  You may have the most wind, in general, on the north side of the house, but if there’s a stand of tall trees near the house on that side, another side of the house might provide a greater net wind flow.

Creating a draft inside the house

highland wi wood burning fireplacesIf you live in a newer home, chances are it was built to be pretty air-tight.  That means little if any air is going to be available to flow up the chimney.  In an air-tight house, it’s much easier for air to come down the chimney than go up it.  Solve this problem by cracking a window or two when operating the fireplace.

If you need more information, or if you’re still looking for the prefect fireplace for a new home or remodeling project, Chimney Specialists is here to help.  Visit our showrooms in Highland, Wis., or Dubuque, Iowa, and see a huge selection of top-name fireplaces that would make wonderful additions to your home.  You can reach us by phone at (608) 929-4887.

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