We have a 1919 bungalow. There's a small fireplace (horseshoe shaped opening to the firebox, about 22" wide and 29" at its high point). It's not the easiest fireplace to get a fire going. The flue opening is somewhat small and towards the back part of the chimney and was described by one inspector as being rather small for the size of the fireplace; the damper has a tendency to close by itself (that we WILL fix). The question I have though is this: We're thinking about installing a gas and ceramic log system because of convenience but also because the somewhat weak drawing power of our chimney might not be a problem when we're not burning wood. Any suggestions? for your help.
Many things can cause a bad draft, wind out side, to short of a chimney, pressure in the home (kitchen/bathroom exhaust fans, cloths dryers, air in the house getting out through attic doors, vents and lights) Try to open a window in the room with the fireplace and see if that makes a difference starting and having the fire, if so then you have the negative pressure issues, if not then it is the height of the chimney/damper opening. I would have a local Certified Chimney Sweep www.csia.org, there you can look up by zip code to find one near you) take a first hand look at what you have they should be able to help.