Is Fireplace Smoke Pouring into Your Home?
If smoke is backing up into your home while using your fireplace, it’s a problem that needs to be solved immediately. Nobody likes the smell of smoke, but there’s a bigger issue: smoke carries with it carbon monoxide, which is invisible and odorless but also potentially fatal to people and pets.
There are several reasons for smoke coming out of your fireplace. Here are the most common.
Leaves, twigs and other tree debris along with the nesting materials of small animals like squirrels and birds can obstruct your flue. This buildup prevents sufficient drafting of smoke and toxins and will only worsen over time.
The easy way to prevent these blockages is to make sure you have a sturdy chimney cap installed at the top of your chimney. The cap allows smoke to leave and prevents junk from getting in.
If you use a wood-burning fireplace, the chimney is going to collect creosote, which forms when fires are burned. Creosote buildups can hamper smoke drafting. Because it’s highly flammable, creosote also can cause a chimney fire.
Creosote should be removed once a year by a licensed, certified chimney sweep.
Cold air in the flue
Cold air is denser than warm air. If you start a fire and the air in the flue is very cold, it can hamper drafting. Solve this by lighting a rolled-up newspaper and holding it up beyond the damper for a minute or so. You also can blow warm air from a hair dryer up into the flue.
Broken or closed fireplace damper
When a damper won’t open completely, likely some level of smoke will back up into your room. If you’ve opened the damper and still have a problem, it means it’s not fully opening. This could be caused by creosote or soot buildup, excess rust or warping. In all cases, the damper should be inspected and then either cleaned or replaced.
House air pressure
Smoke needs air to move it up the chimney. If your house is too air-tight, the fireplace may not be getting enough air to accomplish this. Cracking a window in the vicinity of the fireplace usually solves the problem.
Damp (unseasoned) firewood creates a lot more smoke than dry wood. Your chimney flue should be sized to properly vent the smoke created in your fireplace, but it’s not big enough to vent huge amounts of smoke. If wet firewood is the reason smoke is entering your house, start using firewood that’s had at least six months to dry out.
A chimney flue that wasn’t built in the correct size to vent your fireplace won’t provide a proper draft and will cause smoke to back up into the house. This issue can be determined and a solution provided by a licensed chimney inspector.
If you haven’t been able to quickly solve a smoke-drafting problem, Hudson Valley Chimney of Poughkeepsie, NY, can figure out what’s wrong and get it fixed. We provide CSIA-certified chimney cleaning, chimney inspection and all types of chimney repair and rebuilding work. Reach us today at (845) 471-1071.