Cannot Keep Fire Lit in Fireplace

oo0oo0oo0oo7

New Member
Mar 2, 2019
5
Kirkland, WA
I was searching for forums relating to fireplaces to ask this question and this one was on the top of the list. Also, bare with me as I am an amateur with fireplaces.

My question is, why can't I seem to keep my fire going in my fireplace? I went as far as borrowing a blowtorch to get my logs going. Which was successful, until a few minutes later when everything extinguishes from once being a lively fire.

The smoke was clearly not entering the room and going up the flue. However, I have a downdraft when lighting a match near the flue or just placing my hand there. I have looked at ways to prime the flue and tried the rolled up newspaper trick with no success; mainly because the newspaper is blown out within a couple of seconds.

Can anyone advice me on further actions?

If it matters, I live in a 3 story apartment on the top floor.

Update



I tried a commercial light-once firelog and it extinguished after a few seconds. I forced it lit a couple times and then I noticed that one side was staying lit (left side). I let it burn and eventually everything was evenly lighting with the addition of my original lumber. However...

I did notice that there was strong winds on the flames as I could see the whirlpools in the smoke and the howling of the flames. Is this normal behavior with fireplaces? I am attaching a link to a picture of the fireplace.


The red marking is to open the damper, and the green markings are something I am unfamiliar with. However I noticed there doesn't seem to be a lever on the right one to control whatever it is controlling.
 
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Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
783
Union Bridge, Md
Wet wood? Not sure how your flue system is set up there but 3 flights up probably not the greatest draft to begin with. Still, think your issue is with your wood.
 

edyit

Minister of Fire
Nov 30, 2014
817
Wilmington NY
since this sounds like a new to you set up I have to ask, did you get it inspected by someone that knows what to look for to see if it is safe to burn in before you lit a fire inside your house?
 

Hogwildz

Minister of Fire
Make sure the top is not capped off or plugged up with anything, make sure, there is nothing blocking it in the damper area. I assume damper is opened when trying to fire? When was the chimney last cleaned?
 

oo0oo0oo0oo7

New Member
Mar 2, 2019
5
Kirkland, WA
Make sure the top is not capped off or plugged up with anything, make sure, there is nothing blocking it in the damper area. I assume damper is opened when trying to fire? When was the chimney last cleaned?
Yes, the damper is open and I can actually see daylight and no obvious obstruction. I don't know when the chimney was last cleaned, but it is something I can easily request maintenance to address.
 
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oo0oo0oo0oo7

New Member
Mar 2, 2019
5
Kirkland, WA
since this sounds like a new to you set up I have to ask, did you get it inspected by someone that knows what to look for to see if it is safe to burn in before you lit a fire inside your house?
No I didn't get it professionally looked at. But I assume the maintenance at my apartment has addressed the potential hazard situation when they moved me into the unit. It's dumb of me to assume, so I will ask them.
 

Mech e

New Member
Feb 26, 2019
36
NorCal
Recently stayed at a nice B&B in Mendocino CA and our room had a zero clearance fireplace with a nice supply of newspaper, kindling, and nicely split small pieces of wood. That coastal weather really creates a challenge for having dry wood. Had no problem getting the kindling burning and establishing a coal bed, but trying to keep that moist coastal wood burning was just about impossible. You have a lot of water around you up there in the Seattle area and I wouldn't be surprised if you have similar challenges with having dry wood.
 
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oo0oo0oo0oo7

New Member
Mar 2, 2019
5
Kirkland, WA
Recently stayed at a nice B&B in Mendocino CA and our room had a zero clearance fireplace with a nice supply of newspaper, kindling, and nicely split small pieces of wood. That coastal weather really creates a challenge for having dry wood. Had no problem getting the kindling burning and establishing a coal bed, but trying to keep that moist coastal wood burning was just about impossible. You have a lot of water around you up there in the Seattle area and I wouldn't be surprised if you have similar challenges with having dry wood.
You bring up a really good point on the humidity case where I live. I was able to pick up some milled lumber for free and blindly threw it in the fireplace thinking it would light. I had no idea what it is made of, and there is a good chance it got wet without a cover. My source for the wood had good success with keeping it lit, so I didn't really think it was the wood, but who knows.
 

FTG-05

Feeling the Heat
Feb 8, 2014
378
TN
Wet wood? Not sure how your flue system is set up there but 3 flights up probably not the greatest draft to begin with. Still, think your issue is with your wood.
That's my bet, without the question mark.

On the other hand, the good news is: If you can get firewood dry in Seattle, you can get firewood dry anywhere in the world.

The other good news: These guys are in your area, might wanna give them a call: https://www.chimneysweeponline.com/library.htm
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
9,920
Nova Scotia
I was searching for forums relating to fireplaces to ask this question and this one was on the top of the list. Also, bare with me as I am an amateur with fireplaces.

My question is, why can't I seem to keep my fire going in my fireplace? I went as far as borrowing a blowtorch to get my logs going. Which was successful, until a few minutes later when everything extinguishes from once being a lively fire.

The smoke was clearly not entering the room and going up the flue. However, I have a downdraft when lighting a match near the flue or just placing my hand there. I have looked at ways to prime the flue and tried the rolled up newspaper trick with no success; mainly because the newspaper is blown out within a couple of seconds.

Can anyone advice me on further actions?

If it matters, I live in a 3 story apartment on the top floor.

Update



I tried a commercial light-once firelog and it extinguished after a few seconds. I forced it lit a couple times and then I noticed that one side was staying lit (left side). I let it burn and eventually everything was evenly lighting with the addition of my original lumber. However...

I did notice that there was strong winds on the flames as I could see the whirlpools in the smoke and the howling of the flames. Is this normal behavior with fireplaces? I am attaching a link to a picture of the fireplace.


The red marking is to open the damper, and the green markings are something I am unfamiliar with. However I noticed there doesn't seem to be a lever on the right one to control whatever it is controlling.
That looks somewhat like ours.

The green should open & close a damper for outside air intake. There would only be one outside air intake. Ours is also on the left. Open (pull out) when burning, close (push in) when not. Could be a chance yours doesn't have an outside air intake even hooked up, in which case it wouldn't matter what you do with it. Not sure you can see in there through the holes to tell or not? Might be able to get a scope in there if not?

Also make sure the red damper is being operated correctly. You can stick your head in & look up at the damper (when no fire going of course) if you're not sure which way is open & which way is closed. Or if it is opening all the way or not. Again, keep open when burning (and long enough after that to make sure there are no coals off-gassing), closed otherwise.

'Three floors up' doesn't really tell much. Do you know how far it is from the top of your fireplace to the top of the chimney? That's what matters.