Rumford Technical Discussion
Smoky Fireplaces

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Date: Thu, 02 Dec 1999
To: Jim Buckley
Subject: Re: rumford fireplace

I have a 36" Rumford fp.(1 yr.old) If it is windy outside, smoke pours into the room. Can you tell me what might cause this problem? I can't use it until the problem is corrected.




Sorry you're having trouble.

Probably the fireplace smokes when it's windy because somehow the wind causes a depressurization in the room with the fireplace. This could happen, for example, if there is a ventilation intake or open window on the leaward depressurized side of the house. Air in the house is sucked out this opening, depressurizing the house and the easiest way to replace that air might be down the chimney, causing the downdraft.

The wind could also just be blowing down the chimney. This is likely the case if the chimney is not as tall as the tallest part of the roof and especially if it is downwind from the tallest part of the roof so that, as the wind blows over the roof and down the otherside, there is a downward component blowing dowm the chimney.

Complicated though it may be, the best plan is to wait for the right wind conditions and, without lighting a fire in the fireplace, use some incense or a candle to see which way the air is moving and check to see if there is a downdraft in the chimney. Then open or close windows, turn on or off various fans and see what you can do to neutralise and reverse this downdraft. Then a permanent solution might become apparant.

Let me know what you find and tell me more about the house and the chimney - how tall is the chimney in relationship to the roof, what direction does the wind come from and what kind of heating system do you have, etc.

You might get something out of the discussion at


Jim Buckley

Verna wrote back......

Dear Jim:

Thank-you for taking the time to reply to my e-mail. I haven't had any changes made to the chimney as yet -- decided to try opening a window on the side of the prevailing wind about 1 1/2" first.

What an improvement!! However, I haven't had a fire during a strong wind.

Superior Clay suggested closing off the chimney on the side of the prevailing wind -- I'll try that if opening the window ends up not being the answer. Strong winds come across the lake (not a large lake) from the west and the north. In addition, I have two large oak trees on the west side of the house.

I love the Rumford fireplace (now that the smoke is not coming into my living room). It really does burn much better than the one I had in my previous house --and I do not burn as much wood.

Thank-you!!!! Verna Jones

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