Fireplace Smoke Problem In Homes: Causes & Solutions

Here, we’ll be discussing how best to fix a fireplace smoking problem.

Fireplaces are mostly designed to work with chimneys. These connect to chimneys through which exhaust or combustion gases escape.

Smoke Not Going Up Chimney

However, this isn’t always the case as smoke and other combustion gases rather than going up the chimney find their way or get into your room.

In such a situation, it’s said that the fireplace has a smoking problem. If you’re faced with such issues, you’ll find this article informative and helpful. Here is a guide on fixing a smoking chimney.

Also in the course of the discussion, we’ll consider conditions leading to smoking fireplaces among other things.

Fixing Smoky Fireplace Problem

Fireplaces shouldn’t be smoky as long as there’s a chimney that vents out such smoke. However, this isn’t always the case as there are times when might experience smoke entering your room from the fireplace.

This isn’t a pleasant experience at all and poses health risks when inhaled for long periods.

To have a real chance at solving the problem, you’ll need to find out what causes such smoke. Only then is a solution possible. So, what are the causes of smoky fireplaces?

Let’s discuss this in the next section.

Origins Of Smoke From Fireplace

As mentioned earlier, finding out the cause(s) of a smoking fireplace is the most logical thing to do. This action seeks to address the problem in the best way possible.

Basically, an excessively smoking fireplace is largely due to draft problems or issues.

Now, chimney draft is a process by which air flows through the chimney. Under normal conditions, combustion byproducts (inclusive of smoke and gases) are vented upwards in little time.

An opposite movement of such byproducts could occur when there are issues.

Why Is My Fireplace Smoking Up House?

There are several possible reasons why you’re experiencing smoking fireplace problems. These could range from running exhaust fans, well-insulated homes as well as damper & chimney cap issues.

Fireplace smoking may also originate from warm outdoor temperatures.

That isn’t all! You could be having a fireplace smoking problem as a result of a stuffy or clogged chimney, a poorly built fireplace, and the use of wet firewood.

Any or a combination of these conditions will normally cause fireplace smoking problems.

i. Running Exhaust Fans

When there’s negative air pressure within a building, your chimney is likely to experience a downdraft.

So, instead of smoke traveling up your flue from the fireplace as it’s supposed to, it moves in the opposite direction, thus filling your home with smoke.

Exhaust fans such as those running in the kitchen or other parts of the home could create a negative air pressure situation.

  • Fixing the Problem

In a bid to troubleshoot and provide possible fixes, you could begin by turning off these fans to see if the situation improves. If the smoking problem continues, you might want to proceed to try out other possible fixes by looking at the other points.

ii. Well Insulated Home

Is there a problem with having a well-insulated home? Not really!

However, you might be surprised to discover that your insulated home is the reason why you’re having a smoking fireplace. This isn’t always a problem.

Now, negative air pressure is a problem that could arise when a home is completely insulated.

Pressure planes in a home normally move from negative to neutral and then to positive. Ordinarily, the lower parts of a home will have negative pressure while sitting directly above that is neutral pressure.

Above both pressure planes is positive pressure. When a negative air pressure situation becomes more dominant, your home becomes a vacuum that promotes chimney downdraft.

  • Fixing the Problem

Negative air pressure within a home isn’t ideal for chimneys and fireplaces to function effectively.

Thankfully, the possible solution for such a problem is quite simple. You only need to open a window in the room housing your fireplace.

This should show some improvement within a short time. However, if this problem isn’t fixed or persists, then there could be other causes to your fireplace smoking problem.

iii. Damper & Chimney Cap Issues

Have you checked your damper before starting or building a chimney fire? This is one of the first actions to be taken when building a fire. The damper must remain open as long as the fire remains.

As long as it remains partially or completely closed, there’s little to no escape from combustion gases. Another likely cause for a smoking fireplace is a damaged flue.

Here, you’ll need to call a pro to have the chimney inspected.

  • Fixing the Problem

The most appropriate remedy for this situation is quite evident. All you have to do is open your damper. This should be left wide open throughout the duration of combustion.

In fixing a damaged flue, there’s little you can do by way of DIY techniques. All you have to do is call a technician.

iv. Warm Outdoor Temperatures

Higher temperature differentials between outdoors and indoors are ideal for excellent draft conditions. However, when the temperature difference is slim or equal, you’re likely to experience a smoking fireplace.

  • Fixing the Problem

You might not need to start a fire in your fireplace after all.

Fireplaces are only used to heat homes when there’s a drop in temperature. As long as the temperature stable, there’ll be no need to start a fire.

v. Stuffy or Clogged Chimney

Chimneys should never be allowed to accumulate debris or creosote. These combustion byproducts will steadily accumulate until they block the flue. There’s also the possibility of clogs due to animal nests.

When the exhaust opening for smoke is blocked, it will exit from the fireplace.

  • Fixing the Problem

Is your chimney cleaned regularly? It’s best to carry out yearly cleaning of your fireplace and also include chimney cap screens to keep out nesting animals.

vi. Poorly Built Fireplace

A poorly built fireplace will certainly impact negatively on overall functioning. Poorly built fireplaces arise from hiring novice or uncertified technicians.

Common fireplace structural issues include improper chimney height, and smoke shelf construction, etc.

Fixing the Problem

 A more extensive repair may be required. This would involve renovation or a complete teardown and rebuilding of the fireplace and chimney structure. The costs involved could be substantial.

vii. Use of Wet Firewood

Wet firewood isn’t ideal for use in a fireplace. This has to be well seasoned.

Wet firewood should be allowed to dry for at least 6 months before use. Using such greenwood directly will produce a lot of smoke. This also leads to a faster accumulation of creosotes on the flue lining.

  • Fixing the Problem

Tackling this problem is quite easy! It’s necessary to entirely avoid using wet firewood as fuel. Only use seasoned wood.

These are possible ways by which fireplace smoking issues could be resolved. You may be faced with one or more of these scenarios.

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