There are a number of causes for fireplace smoking problems, many of which are easily remedied. If you live in an area prone to wind, such as the coastal or mountainous regions, or even off of a canyon or hillside, there is a very simple solution–a chimney wind cap.
The difference between a standard chimney cap and a wind cap
A standard chimney cap prevents embers from landing on the roof, prevents animals and other critters from entering the home through the chimney and prevents rain from going into the chimney system. These standard chimney caps, however, will not necessarily prevent wind-induced down drafts.
The wind cap, on the other hand, has the same benefits as a standard chimney cap but due to its design, it has the added benefit of preventing wind from going down the flue, causing smoking problems in your home.
What is a wind cap?
A wind cap works on the same premise as a weather vane.
The specially-designed wind cap rotates on a turret, turning its back to the wind while allowing the smoke to exit the flue.
The wind currents flow over the wind cap, instead of going down the pipe. The air current going past the cap creates a venturi effect (partial vacuum) in the pipe, helping to prevent the down draft that creates the smoking problem. The hood of the wind cap also prevents horizontal rain to enter the flue pipe.
Where to find wind caps
Unlike universal standard chimney caps, wind caps must be custom sized to fit to the flue pipe. This requires taking measurements of the inside diameter of the flue pipe, the outside diameter of the flue pipe as well as the shape of the chimney flue. The measurements can be tricky, especially for the odd-sized or the odd-shaped flue pipe.
These wind caps have to be special ordered to fit properly. It is recommended to hire a professional chimney sweep to measure, order and install a wind cap. To find a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, go to the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s website.
One precaution with a wind cap
Please be aware that wind caps cannot be installed on pre-fabricated fireplace systems due to the U.L. listing on the pre-fab fireplace. Wind caps can only be installed on masonry chimneys or wood stove pipes.
Smoking problems can be easily resolved. Don’t just accept a fireplace smoking problem. Nothing should take you away from enjoying your warm cozy fireplace on a cold night–one of the simple pleasures in life.