Why Is My Fireplace so Smoky?
If your wood-burning fireplace is sending smoke into your home, you have a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. The good news is, many chimney drafting issues can be solved easily, without the need for professional intervention. Certain issues, however, do need the services of a chimney expert.
Here are some of the most common reasons for a smoky fireplace.
Firewood that hasn’t had time to dry produces much more smoke than dry wood. Usually, about six months is required for firewood to season, or reach a state that’s ideal to use in a fireplace. You can test logs by whacking them together: dry logs will make a hollow sound; damp logs will make a thud.
House that’s too air-tight
An air-tight home is good to save money on utility bills, but not good for fireplace drafting. Insufficient air moving into the firebox means less power to push smoke and gases upward. Cracking a nearby window will help.
Issues with the fireplace damper
If your damper can’t open fully, smoke likely will back up into your room. Rust and creosote buildups can affect how a damper operates. Broken or warped dampers also may not open completely.
Cold air in the flue
When it’s particularly cold outside, the air inside your flue may keep smoke from moving upwards, because cold air is denser than warm air. Solve this problem by sticking a rolled lit newspaper up into the flue or blowing hot air from a portable hair dryer to warm up the flue air.
Construction of the chimney
Chimneys are supposed to be built with a specific flue size to properly draft the fireplaces they’re connected to. This doesn’t always happen. A flue of the incorrect size can cause sluggish drafting and backups of smoke. Have a chimney inspector take a look.
Obstructions in the flue
Bird and squirrel nests, falling leaves and twigs from trees and other debris can clog up your flue to the point that smoke can’t draft efficiently. This type of problem is most common with chimneys that don’t have proper chimney caps or flue covers.
Excess creosote in the flue
Creosote builds up every time a wood fire burns – especially when the fire produces excess smoke and when logs burn inefficiently. Highly flammable, creosote can present as a sticky, flakey, puffy or solid substance and requires specialized tools to remove. Too much creosote will block the smooth passage of smoke.
Annual chimney sweeping and inspection
The way to solve excess creosote or flue-obstruction problems is to have a chimney sweep who’s certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) perform a thorough cleaning. A good chimney cap will prevent future debris obstructions, and annual sweeping will keep creosote from getting out of hand.
Regular chimney inspections are the very best way to stay on top of issues with your chimney. A qualified inspector can spot problems early and fix them before they become serious and expensive repair projects.
If you’re experiencing an overly smoky fireplace and you’ve tried the suggestions we’ve outlined here that you can do on your own, Holiday Fireplace Shop of Cheektowaga, NY, can help. Our field division, Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney offers CSIA-certified chimney sweeping, chimney inspections and chimney repairs. Call (716) 482-1820, and get your drafting problems solved.