A smoky fireplace is a very unpleasant experience. Fortunately, it’s an issue that chimney technicians see all the time and have figured out how to solve. Some of the solutions to smoke backing up into your home don’t even need professional service. Others do. Here are some guidelines.
A common reason for smoke-drafting issues is a fireplace damper that doesn’t open completely to allow smoke to move efficiently up into the flue. Dampers that are corroded with creosote or rust may not open all the way. Severely warped dampers also may impede drafting.
Cold air is heavier and denser than warm air. If it’s super-cold outside, the air inside your flue may be too dense for the warm air and smoke from a fire to rise. You usually can solve this problem by lighting a rolled-up newspaper and holding it as far into the flue as you can reach. A hand-held hair dryer aimed up the flue also should do the trick.
Your home may be so air-tight that it doesn’t allow for incoming air to flow into the fireplace and start a draft. This common cause of sluggish fireplace drafting and can be solved by cracking a nearby window.
Your fireplace, smoke chamber and flue all are properly built and sized to create the necessary draft to pull smoke up and out of your firebox. However, no system can manage the heavy amount of smoke caused by burning damp wood. Dry firewood (six months from harvest to burn is ideal) will reduce smoke production and create less flammable creosote, a smoke byproduct, in your flue.
Faulty construction of your chimney can cause smoke backups. If the flue opening isn’t the correct size for the fireplace it’s venting, it won’t be able to create the necessary draft to handle smoke the way it should. This issue needs to be evaluated by a licensed chimney professional.
If you operate your chimney without a chimney cap or flue cover, all manner of debris can get inside and hinder drafting. Small-animal nests and falling tree debris are two examples of common obstructions. Solve this problem by installing a cap or cover.
As noted, creosote builds up every time a fire is burned. If your flue isn’t professionally cleaned once a year, this buildup can become big enough to cause smoke to filter into your room. Beyond drafting issues, a very serious concern with creosote that it’s the cause of most chimney fires every year due to its flammable nature.
The only way to solve the problems of debris or creosote buildups in your flue is to have a CSIA-certified chimney sweep clean them out. Chimney sweeps have specialized tools and training to do this job thoroughly and safely. Annual chimney sweeping is recommended by all fire-safety organizations.
As you can see, some smoke-drafting problems can be solved by you. When you have an issue that needs professional attention, A1 Chimney Specialist of Winchester, TN, and Huntsville, AL, is ready to go to work. We provide certified chimney cleaning, chimney inspections and all levels of chimney repair and rebuilding.
In the Winchester area, call (931) 967-3595. For service in and around Huntsville, call (256) 285-4895.