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Easy Steps on How to Increase Chimney Draft

A crackling fire in the fireplace is beautiful, but it needs something important: a good chimney draft. Draft is what helps pull smoke and fumes up the chimney and away from your house. If your draft isn’t strong enough, you might have smoky rooms, struggle to start fires, and your fires won’t burn well. 

At this point, you might wonder how to increase the chimney draft. Here’s a brief for you: To increase the chimney draft, ensure proper insulation and ventilation, and consider installing a chimney fan or draft inducer for enhanced airflow. Regular cleaning and choosing quality fuel also contribute to improved performance.

Let’s get into the details of this topic now!

What is Chimney Draft?

What is Chimney Draft?

First, let’s talk about the chimney draft. It’s like the wind inside your chimney. When the air inside is hotter than outside, it makes a suction that pulls fresh air in and pushes smoke and gases out.

Several factors influence chimney draft:

  • Chimney Height: Taller chimneys create stronger drafts. Ideally, your chimney should extend at least 3 feet above the roofline for optimal draft.
  • Temperature Difference: Hotter air inside the chimney improves draft.
  • Cross-Sectional Area: Larger chimneys allow for better airflow.
  • Obstructions: Blockages hinder draft efficiency. A dirty chimney packed with creosote buildup or debris can significantly hinder airflow.
  • Negative Air Pressure: The pressure of the air inside your house can mess with the chimney draft.
  • Wind and Environmental Factors: Wind and other things outside can mess with how well your chimney draft works.
  • Competing Vents: Exhaust fans in kitchens or bathrooms can create negative pressure, which can disrupt the chimney draft.
  • Fuel Quality and Burning Techniques: Dry wood and proper burning enhance draft.
  • Improper Fire-starting Techniques: A cold fire struggles to generate enough heat for a proper draft.

How to Increase Chimney Draft: Easy Steps

How to Increase Chimney Draft: Easy Steps


Here are the simple solutions for a stronger draft.

Start with a Hot, Fast Fire

Start with a hot, fast fire to get the chimney draft working quickly. If you’re lazy about starting a fire, it can fill your home with smoke. It’s best to start the fire hot and fast. Heating up the chimney quickly helps the draft start pulling smoke up. 

The top-down technique is the best way to start a fire.

Here’s how:

  • Start with large, normal-sized pieces of wood for the base.
  • Add a layer of paper balls or knots at the bottom.
  • Place 5 or 6 smaller pieces of wood (2 to 3 inches in diameter) on top.
  • Add another layer of paper.
  • Put a thin layer of kindling on the very top, covered with paper knots.
  • Lighting the top layer will make the fire burn downwards.

Make sure to stack the layers of wood so air can move around. This movement is important for the fire to burn well. If the wood is stacked tightly, the air won’t move enough for the fire to burn properly.

Burn Wood with Very Little Moisture

To have a hot, quick fire, use wood with low moisture, ideally below 20%. Wood with lots of moisture burns slowly and isn’t very efficient because it’s busy drying out before burning well. High-moisture wood makes it hard to start a fire the top-down way.

Here’s how to use wood with low moisture:

  • Stack and store your wood properly, allowing air to circulate around it.
  • Keep the wood outside, covered from direct rain, but not tightly covered with a tarp. Tight covers can trap moisture.
  • Hardwoods like Oak, Maple, and Ash are best for burning in a fireplace or wood stove.
  • With proper storage, hardwoods take 1 to 2 years to dry, depending on their size.
  • Utilize a moisture meter to check the wood’s moisture level.

Besides, check out our informative blog to learn, “Do chimneys with gas fireplaces need cleaning?

Make Air Flow Better Around the Fire

Having a strong, hot fire is important for a chimney to work well. One way to make your fire burn better is to use a fireplace grate.

Here’s how to use a fireplace grate:

  • A fireplace grate helps air move more freely through the wood, creating turbulence that helps the fire.
  • Every wood-burning fireplace should have a grate.
  • If you have a wood-burning stove, check with the stove’s manufacturer to see if using a grate is okay.
  • Newer wood stoves approved by the EPA are designed to burn wood for longer without needing to reload. Using a grate might make the wood burn too quickly and reduce efficiency.
  • Using a grate in a wood stove could void its warranty, so it’s best to check with the manufacturer first.

Warm Up the Chimney Before Starting a Fire

Warming up the flue first is important to get the draft going in a cold chimney. In very cold places, this step might even be necessary to get a draft going. A super cold chimney can create a blockage that stops the draft and lets smoke into your home.

Here’s how to warm up the flue:

  • Use everyday items like a hairdryer, a big candle, a heat gun, or a handheld propane torch to warm up the flue. Hold the heating tool up the flue for a minute or two to make it warm enough for the draft to start.

Make Sure There’s Enough Air for the Fire

Wood needs oxygen and fresh air to burn well. The more fresh air there is, the hotter the fire gets. But as the fire burns, it uses up all the fresh air in the room. When that happens, the fire can start to smoke and go out.

Here’s how to make sure there’s enough air:

  • If your home is very airtight and energy-efficient, the fire might use up the air too quickly. To fix this, open a window or door in the room where the fireplace or wood stove is.
  • You can also install a fresh air intake directly into the wood stove if it’s made for it. This gives the stove a constant supply of fresh air. Install a hood on the outside of your home and run a pipe to the back of the stove.
  • It’s especially important to do this in newer homes that are designed to be really airtight.

Are you wondering how often to clean a chimney with an oil furnace? Give our informative blog a thorough read to learn.

What if  Your Fireplace Draft Doesn’t Improve?

What if  Your Fireplace Draft Doesn't Improve?


Even if you’re doing everything right with storing wood and setting up your fire, you might still have a bad draft. 

Here’s why and what you can do:

Chimney Pipe Configuration

  • If you have a freestanding wood stove, having more than two 90-degree bends in the pipe can make it hard for smoke to escape. Try using fewer bends or using 45-degree bends instead.
  • Long horizontal sections of pipe slow down the smoke’s rise. Make sure your horizontal pipe slopes up at least 1/4 inch per foot toward the chimney. The length of the horizontal pipe shouldn’t be more than half the height of the chimney. You can also use an inline draft fan to help the smoke move out.

Flue Size

Sometimes, the flue is too small for the fireplace, causing a bad draft. 

  • The flue should be at least 1/12th of the fireplace’s face area for round flues and 1/10th for square or rectangle flues with an aspect ratio of less than 2 to 1. 
  • For rectangle flues with an aspect ratio greater than 2 to 1, it should be at least 1/8th of the face opening. 
  • If the flue is too small, you can install a smokeguard to reduce the fireplace opening.

Chimney Height for Proper Draft

Even if your chimney is up to code, it might not be tall enough for a good draft. 

  • Ideally, it should be at least 15 feet tall to create a strong draft. 

Dirty Chimney Flue

If your fireplace or wood stove is not drafting properly, the chimney flue might be dirty or blocked with creosote. Cleaning the flue can help remove creosote and restore the proper draft. 

Schedule regular chimney sweeps at least once a year to remove soot and creosote buildup that can obstruct airflow.

Check out our informative blog to learn, “Why is my chimney leaking?

Safety First: When to Call a Professional

If you’ve tried all the DIY solutions and your chimney draft remains weak, it’s time to call a CSIA-certified chimney sweep. They can inspect your chimney for any underlying issues like cracks, blockages, or improper liner installation that might be affecting the draft.

You can choose H&H Services at this stage.

If you need professional help in related to chimney draft issues, along with chimney cleaning, sweeping, and maintenance in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, choose H&H Services. 

With over 60,000 satisfied customers, we provide chimney cleaning, animal removal, and more. Licensed and insured, we offer transparent pricing and have expertise in chimney repair and reconstruction. 

Our services ensure chimney fire prevention, home safety, and clean indoor air. 

Contact us at (215) 434-7433 for expert chimney assistance.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, following these simple steps can make your chimney work better, making your fireplace safer and more efficient. Remember, a good chimney draft keeps your home cozy and comfortable. Try out the methods we’ve talked about on how to increase chimney draft and make your fireplace experience warmer, cleaner, and more enjoyable.


Does a taller chimney draft better?

Yes, a taller chimney creates a stronger draft due to the increased difference in air pressure between the top and bottom of the chimney.

Can I improve the draft with a chimney balloon?

While chimney balloons can exist, they are not a recommended method.  They can be ineffective and potentially dangerous.

Does opening the damper in unused fireplaces help draft?

No, keeping dampers closed in unused fireplaces helps prevent heat loss and unwanted pests from entering.

Are there any dangers associated with a poor chimney draft?

Yes, a poor draft can lead to smoke entering your home, which can cause respiratory problems and carbon monoxide poisoning.

How often should I have my chimney inspected for draft concerns?

It’s recommended to have your chimney inspected at least once a year, especially before the start of the heating season.



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