Why is Smoke Coming Out of My Fireplace?
If smoke is billowing out of your fireplace instead of going up your chimney, you have a problem that needs solving. Those combustion gases from fires are toxic, and health issues can result from continued use of a smoky fireplace. There are quite a few reasons a fireplace smokes instead of operating as expected. Whatever the reason turns out to be, it’s best not to use your fireplace until the issue has been resolved. Trusted CSIA-certified chimney sweep technicians have the training to determine the cause of your smoky fireplace. However, among the common causes of a smoking fireplace listed below, you can resolve some of them yourself.
Open the Damper
It is not unusual for a person to get a fire started in the fireplace without first opening the damper. The damper is a metal door just above the firebox that should always be closed when the fireplace is not in use. Otherwise, if the damper is always left open, your heating bill is likely to go up because the heated air from your home will escape through the chimney. The best, though oft-forgotten, first step for use of a fireplace is to open the damper.
Prime the Chimney
When a chimney is on an exterior wall, the chimney flue often fills up with a cold column of air in frigid weather. If you try to start a fire in the fireplace, the reason combustion gases billow into the home is that the cold air is preventing the chimney draft from working. Dispel the cold air with a rolled-up newspaper lit like a torch. Carefully hold it up through the chimney damper to warm up the flue temperature. It may take a couple of times to work; but if the problem is cold air, priming the chimney will do the trick.
Use Seasoned Firewood
Wet or green firewood causes excessively smoky fires because the logs are full of moisture. The only type of firewood that should be burned is seasoned firewood. This means that moisture has been reduced through a drying-out process. Logs are stacked in a way that allows for wind and air to dry them out. It takes around six months to a year or more for firewood to be seasoned.
Offset Negative Air Pressure
Modern homes tend to be very airtight. This causes a problem for fireplaces because air is required for a fireplace to work properly. If an exhaust fan is being used in the house, such as in the kitchen or bathroom, it can disrupt the chimney draft, resulting in a smoky fireplace. A good temporary fix is to crack open a nearby window. Call on your trusted chimney sweep expert for help in finding a long-term solution.
The Flue is Blocked
If your chimney is obstructed, your fireplace will be smoky. Creosote is the number one cause of a blocked chimney. With every wood fire, combustion materials stick to the chimney flue on the way out of the chimney. Annual chimney cleaning is recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends getting your chimney cleaned when there is 1/8th of an inch of sooty buildup in the chimney lining.
When chimney cleaning is neglected, the buildup of creosote will eventually cause an obstruction that results in a smoky chimney. Chimney blockage can also be caused by:
- Animal nests;
- Debris such as limbs and leaves; and
- Masonry debris if the masonry is deteriorating due to water intrusion.
Contact the Experts at Northeastern Chimney LLC
The certified chimney sweep professionals at Northeastern Chimney LLC can fix your smoky chimney, even if the problem is as serious as poor chimney construction. If you have a smoky chimney, contact us today to ensure the safety of your home and family. Get all of your chimney services with our 5-star guarantee. Call us at 860-233-5770 to schedule an appointment.