It’s important to recognize when your wood fireplace isn’t working correctly. Fireplaces work because heated air rises and the smoke goes up the chimney when everything is working properly. As warm air rises, cool air from your home flows into the fireplace, creating heat. A smokey fireplace is unhealthy, annoying, and could be a fire hazard. Smoke can also permanently damage furniture, curtains, flooring, and other items inside the home.
Fireplace smoke that doesn’t flow properly through the chimney or flue can be an indication of a serious problem for your home and family. Smoke is one of many serious chimney warning signs that should be corrected right away. Here are some questions to ask when smoke is entering your home.
1. Is The Damper Open? The damper, a hinged metal plate located inside the fireplace that allows air to flow must be opened before lighting a fire. The damper controls the air flow from the fireplace to the chimney thus regulates the fire and smoke. If the damper is closed the smoke has no where to go but into the room.
2. Is There Enough Air in The Room? If there isn’t sufficient air in the room where the fireplace is located, smoke will reenter the room. A room with not enough air circulation creates an environment that inhibits a draft that can carry the smoke up the chimney. Open a window or two just a few inches while the fire is burning to test this theory and correct the problem. Outside air will allow the smoke to move upwards and out, instead of back into your room.
3. Should You Preheat The Flue? Pre-heating the flue system is an easy and effective way to create a properly working and smoke free fireplace. A cold flue causes a fire to burn more slowly so the smoke remains in front of the fire instead of rising up the chimney. To warm up the flue, place rolled up and lighted newspapers in the fireplace. This will warm up the flue and create an effective siphon for the smoke to rise up the chimney.
4. Is your Chimney Poorly Designed? If your chimney isn’t long enough, doesn’t extend above the roof, or is poorly designed, improper drafting and smoke entering the room could be the result. A professional contractor can inspect the chimney and provide advice.
5. Is The Wood You Are Burning Green or Wet? Dried out wood is the best wood to create a smoke free fire. Wood that is too wet or green will produce more smoke than your flue and chimney can remove and it will return into the room.
6. Is The Chimney Dirty? Fireplace smoking can be the result of a dirty, blocked chimney. Chimneys that are used regularly get soot and creosote build up that can cause smoke coming into your home. It is important to note that fireplaces that aren’t used regularly or for the first time of the season, should be inspected for animals and birds who may have created nests inside them. Your chimney should be professionally inspected and cleaned annually to remove hazardous conditions.