Fireplace Pushing Smoke Into the House?
Fireplace smoke in the house can be a dangerous situation, causing you and your family members to breathe in microparticles and carbon monoxide and can lead to a fire in severe situations.
At Chimney Saver Solutions, we’re a locally-owned Richmond, VA, company with over 20 years of experience solving problems just like this and keeping families safe with professional chimney inspection and chimney repairs.
Why Your Fireplace Blows Smoke into the House
The most common reason your fireplace pushes smoke into the house is a weak draft.
A proper working fireplace is a circular process, which vents smoke and vapors up the flue and outside with fresh air coming in to keep the fire lit.
When smoke backs up in the flue — called “back puffing” — it spills out into the house.
There are many reasons your fireplace experiences poor drafting, including:
- Water seeping into the flue
- Blockages in the flue
- Negative air pressure in the house
- Disparate indoor vs. outdoor temperature
Let’s dive deeper into each problem and the remedy.
A fireplace with a leaking chimney is one of the most common problems homeowners face, and various issues can cause it.
The most common causes of a leaking chimney are a damaged crown, no chimney cover, worn-out mortar or joints, a leaking flue pipe, or damaged flashing.
Once water gets into the flue, it lowers the air temperature, which means it can’t rise and has no place to go but back into the house.
If you notice back puffing after snow or heavy rain, it’s probably water getting into the chimney that’s causing the problem.
The best way to fix this is to hire a professional, certified chimney sweep to inspect the flue’s opening and identify where water is getting in.
Another common problem for fireplace owners is debris getting into the flue. Leaves, animal nests, and creosote buildup can wreak havoc with the chimney’s performance and cause the above-mentioned back puffing.
And if that weren’t bad enough, if these obstructions harden, they can cause the temperature in the chimney to rise to dangerous levels, which can lead to a chimney fire.
You can tell if you have an obstruction by shining a flashlight up the flue. Creosote buildup is easily identified by a dark brown or black coating along the chimney walls.
If you spot either of these problems, call the pros at Chimney Saver Solutions for a chimney inspection. We have many options to fix this problem, including installing a chimney cap to keep out wildlife, pests, and debris.
Negative Air Pressure
For a chimney to work properly, it requires neutral air pressure, which means the air coming in and going out of the house does so at the same rate.
Many newer, energy-efficient homes have beefy insulation and are sealed with weather stripping, which is ideal for keeping the heat in but can lead to negative air pressure problems.
The energy efficiency insulation means air doesn’t escape, so you get more air coming in than going out. This air pressure imbalance causes smoke to go back down the flue and into the house.
A professional chimney sweep will perform several tests to determine the cause of the negative pressure and may recommend a draft-inducing heater or whole house ventilator to solve the issue.
Disparate Indoor vs. Outdoor Temperature
While a chimney seems like a simple machine, it requires many factors to be balanced to work correctly. One of those factors is the temperature inside versus outside.
The greater the temperature difference means stronger draft, while the lower the difference means weaker draft.
So, when you have low outside temperatures and high temperatures inside, the hot air naturally rises up the flue and out of the house. But, if the indoor and outdoor temperatures are nearly identical, the hot air simply floats in the firebox and eventually flows back into the house.
You can avoid this problem by ensuring that you’re only lighting fires when there’s at least a 20-degree temperature differential. Also, you can pre-warm the flue to improve the draft and guard against back puffing.
If you’ve had issues with back puffing or other problems with your chimney, call Chimney Saver Solutions at (804) 440-5000 or inquire online regarding chimney inspection, chimney repairs, and fireplace sales & installation, in the VA area.