One of the trickiest aspects of owning a home is deciding which problems you can troubleshoot and which ones require calling an expert. At the end of the day, you don’t want to spend money you don’t have to on something you could’ve fixed yourself. Yet, you want the job done right and safely. Troubleshooting fireplace repair in Kansas City homes falls under the tricky category; sometimes it’s an easy fix and other times, you need an expert.
Visually Inspect Your Fire Bricks
Kansas City has dry spells. No rain can affect your home’s foundation, causing it to shift. Those shifts lead to wall cracks, doors that stick and more serious issues. But, when your foundation shifts for any reason, the fire bricks in your fireplace can crack.
Occasionally, or if you definitely know your foundation has shifted, visually inspect your fire bricks. These are the heat-resistant masonry blocks that line the inside of your fireplace. Make sure there are no cracks. If you notice any, contact a fireplace repair expert in Kansas City for immediate repair. Dangerous gases can enter your home through fire brick cracks, so don’t light your fireplace until the issue is fixed.
Troubleshooting the Pilot Light on Your Fireplace
Your gas fireplace’s pilot light is a gas-fueled flame that remains lit when your fireplace is on. If it doesn’t ignite, sometimes it’s possible to relight it with a lighter, much like a gas grill. If that doesn’t work, contact a fireplace service expert who can troubleshoot other causes like moisture in your gas line. If your gas fireplace won’t stay lit, it could be the faulty thermocouple, which calls for a fireplace service call.
Troubleshooting a Fireplace Draft Problem
If you have a wood-burning fireplace and smoke fills your room rather than venting up through your chimney, you have a draft problem. The possible causes and solutions are:
Nests. Birds or animals have built a nest in your chimney, blocking smoke from escaping. Whether it’s a nest or another issue can be difficult to determine based on how easy it is for you to get up there and take a look, either based on height or physical limitations. Whoever takes a look, if it is a nest, have it removed and install a chimney cap to keep birds and animals from doing it again. Even if you have a chimney cap, critters can and will try to get through it, causing damage. In that case, the chimney cap needs repair or replacement.
A flawed design. Our fireplace service and repair experts have seen instances where the chimney design itself is causing backdraft problems, sending smoke into the house rather than venting it out the chimney. Usually, it’s a matter of the chimney is not tall enough. Proper ventilation requires a chimney rise about 3 feet from your roofline. If there is anything blocking your chimney within 10 feet, it needs to be even higher to obtain proper airflow. Installing a chimney pipe on top of your existing chimney solves the problem. This is generally a job for a fireplace repair and service company.
Your fireplace damper. The damper is an adjustable steel flap located above the fire box and at the entrance to your chimney. When it’s fully open, more heat and smoke are drawn up through your chimney. If completely closed, smoke will enter the room. The damper should be at least partway open when you light a fire so the smoke can pass through and up the chimney. If smoke drafts into the room, ensure the damper is open. If it’s not, it’s an easy fix. Simply, open it. If it won’t open, let the fireplace cool down completely. Unstick the damper with a good cleaning, using a wire brush and add lubrication oil until it opens and closes smoothly.
An Annual Inspection is Important
Chimneys, fireplaces and vents should be inspected at least once a year to ensure your fireplace is in optimal working order. An inspection finds and corrects any problems before they become dangerous.
If you have any concerns about your fireplace or want the peace of mind that everything is fine, get in touch with one of our fireplace service technicians.