5 Common Problems with a Two-sided Fireplace

A two-sided fireplace blazes in a modern home.

Two-sided fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular in new and renovated homes today. Viewable from two adjacent rooms, it is essentially a part of the wall that has a see-through fireplace. This structure can add a sense of luxurious charm to the home, transforming an ordinary interior into a cozy, fashionable space.

If you have a two-sided fireplace or are considering adding one, here are some issues you should be prepared to watch out for.

1. Smoky Interior

Because there is no backing, this type of fireplace tends to leak out smoke into one or both of the adjacent rooms. This can sometimes be controlled by opening the damper, but even then, it may not resolve the problem completely. This can better be avoided by installing a glass door on each side and keeping one closed while in another room.

2. Non-Functioning Dampers

The damper is an important part of the flue in the chimney. When not working correctly, the fire will not be able to draw a consistent supply of oxygen, and it will not burn efficiently. To fix this, you will need to clean out the flue and remove any debris around the damper. You can also lubricate the damper's hinge to ensure smooth operation.

3. Fireplace Odors

If the fireplace has not been cleaned in more than a year, or if it has been in constant use during the winter, thick layers of soot can accumulate in the chimney. This buildup can produce some noxious odors that drift into the home, whether the fire is going or not. You can get rid of this odor by having the soot cleaned out of the chimney.

4. Water Leaking

Often, when two-sided fireplaces are installed there is no cap placed on to the chimney. In some circumstances, a cap is not necessary. However, if you notice that there is a lot of steam in the fireplace, water streaks along bottom of the chimney, or along the side walls, you will need to attach a chimney cap to keep out rain or other moisture.

5. Stains

If you have noticed white stains along the chimney or on the walls around the hearth, you may be seeing efflorescence. These white stains are mineral deposits that are left behind from water that has soaked through the surface and dissolved, and they may indicate water damage in the walls. However, they can be easily cleaned off with soap and water. To prevent this problem, apply water repellent or install a chimney cap to reduce the amount of water seeping through.