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More information on damper-less fireplaces

Combustion air is key to dispel smoky smell

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Often we receive e-mails from readers about the columns we publish. Sometimes we get thanks and kudos and occasionally we get raspberries. Often we get suggestions on better ways to do a job, and a column occasionally generates a follow-up question or two. In a recent column we responded to a homeowner who wanted to eliminate the ash smell coming from his damper-less firebox when the fireplace was not in use. According to the homeowner, the smell was strongest when a ridge of high pressure was in the area. We directed him to a chimney-cap damper that attaches to the top of the chimney and seals the chimney from outside air. This prevents a downdraft through the chimney spreading the smell of ashes in the house. But one reader wrote us with a similar problem and questions how the damper would prevent the smell of smoke while a fire is burning. He writes: "I was thrilled to read your response to the question regarding the smell of ashes. I was surprised when I discovered that our 1937 ho...