How to Fix a Smoking Fireplace
A common complaint homeowners have about their fireplace is that the smoke doesn’t go up the chimney the way it’s supposed to. Instead, the smoke goes into the home. Chimney professionals are the ones who know how to fix a smoking fireplace, though there are various causes of the problem. It can take some troubleshooting to determine what is creating the issue. The fixes for a smoking fireplace can be very easy and they can also be very expensive, depending on the situation. The following are some of the most common causes and fixes for a smoking fireplace.
The first step in preparing to light a fire in a fireplace or wood stove is to open the damper. It can be surprising, the number of people who skip this step and call a chimney company for help with a smoky fireplace. Many times, it turns out that the damper was never opened and the smoke had no place to go except into the home. This is a quick fix: Open the damper.
Lack of Air Pressure
A certain amount of air is needed in the room a fire is built in, to achieve a proper chimney draft. Many homes today are so airtight, however, that there isn’t sufficient air pressure for the chimney venting system to operate properly. Using the exhaust fan in the kitchen can sometimes create this problem, too. The simplest and quickest remedy for lack of air pressure is to open a window a few inches in the same room where the fireplace is. This will create a proper draft that moves the smoke out of your home.
The Flue Needs Priming
Smoke sometimes won’t go up a chimney because there is a column of cold air in the chimney flue that pushes the smoke back into the home. It’s important to check the draft before lighting a fire, to be sure priming isn’t needed. The most common way to prime a chimney flue is to roll up newspaper to create a torch, light it, and then hold it up toward the damper. Sometimes it’s necessary to do this a couple of times or more, to warm up the flue well enough that you have a good draft for a fire.
A Fireplace Opening Too Large for the Flue
If the opening of your fireplace is more than ten times the circumference of your flue, the dynamics are wrong for creating a healthy draft. Your fireplace will be smoky because more smoke collects in the firebox than can be drafted up the chimney. The best solution is often to install a Smoke-Guard, which is a metal strip that makes the opening of your fireplace smaller. With a more compatible ratio of flue size to fireplace opening, the fireplace should stop smoking.
The Chimney is Too Short
A chimney has to be tall enough to extend above the roofline, for proper chimney drafting on a consistent basis. What can happen is that the chimney is supposed to be able to make up discrepancies between air pressure inside the home and outside the home. With a chimney that lacks sufficient height, it’s easy for the smoke to blow back into the room, when there is negative pressure in the home. The only approach to fixing this smoky fireplace problem is to extend the length of the chimney.
The Chimney is Improperly Built
Probably the worst news a homeowner can get about the cause of a smoky chimney is that the chimney was built incorrectly. Masons who are not trained regarding the proper operation of a chimney frequently build “bad fireplaces,” due to their lack of knowledge. There is a specific mathematical relationship between different fireplace and chimney components that must be achieved, for proper drafting. Sometimes, entire fireplaces must be rebuilt, to fix the smoking problem. Other times, substantial design flaws in the smoke chamber or firebox are the source of the problem, which requires a partial chimney rebuild.
Professional Chimney Sweeps Fix Smoking Chimneys
The trained and certified chimney sweeps at Chimney Saver Solutions are experienced experts at resolving problems with smoking fireplaces. If you can’t enjoy your fireplace because smoke always leaks into your home, call Chimney Saver Solutions today at 804-440-4000.