Whether you are baking cookies, lighting candles, or sitting quietly by your fireplace fire, smoke isn’t something you want in your home.

If your fireplace is allowing smoke in – and not out – then you have a problem on your hands. Fortunately the crew here at Owens Chimney Systems is made up of well-trained professionals who have experience in these matters. When smoke enters the home it is most often caused by one of two things.

  1. The air is flowing in the wrong direction due to a tight home or incorrectly built chimney.
  2. There is an obstacle in your flue, blocking the smoke from effectively flowing outside.

So, how can you know what’s wrong and, more importantly, what to do about?

Before Anything, Check Your Damper

smoke floating across a black backgroundThe first thing you should always do is check your damper. It seems like a silly suggestion, but people forget to open their damper more often than you’d think. We’ve all tried to turn on a lamp only to realize it wasn’t plugged in. This falls along those same lines.

This isn’t a scenario you need to call in a sweep for and, the good news is, it’s an easy fix. So, before diving into troubleshooting your smoky fireplace, quickly make sure that your damper is open first.

Is Your Chimney Clogged Up?

The next thing you need to check is whether or not there is an obstruction in your chimney. These problems are hard to spot so the help of professionals is suggested. 

Sometimes, unwanted members of the animal kingdom will take up residence in chimneys. Who could blame them? A proper chimney will be warm and dry, making it an ideal space to set up camp. If an animal such as a squirrel, bird, or raccoon have established themselves as a tenant you need to get them out. This is a job that should be done by a professional because it is important that you don’t hurt the animal, you don’t hurt your chimney, and you don’t hurt yourself.

Another obstruction that you need to look for is creosote buildup. Creosote is a highly combustible byproduct that comes from burning wood. It slowly builds up by sticking to the walls of the chimney, and if not regularly swept out, it can build up and restrict airflow within the chimney.

The best way to solve any problems due to chimney clogs or obstructions is to call in a professional. Owens Chimney Systems has all the equipment necessary to help you keep your chimney maintained and the air flowing properly. Book your sweeping with us today.

Is It an Airflow Issue?

Have established that there is nothing blocking your chimney? Then, it’s time to check what might be causing air to flow into – and not out of – your home through the chimney. Here’s what we suggest.

1. Make sure your firebox is the correct size for your chimney.

If your exhaust flue is too small for your firebox, then there may simply not be enough room for smoke to exit your home through the chimney fast enough. This can be solved by installing a smoke guard or by having your firebox professionally resized.

Alternatively, you may have the opposite problem where your exhaust flue is too big for your fireplace. This problem allows too much airflow into your firebox and creates a downward draft that pushes the smoke into the home. Rebuilding your flue or relining your chimney are both steps that will help reduce the opening and increase upward airflow.

2. Make sure your home is ventilated

masonry chimney with snow sitting on topNewer homes are often so energy efficient that air cannot flow freely throughout it. While this is a good thing for your heating bill, it can create a negative pressure system in your house, which is bad for lighting fireplaces.

Essentially, when a fire is lit it will suck oxygen down your chimney and into your home because it has nowhere else to pull from. This results in smoke being forced into your home. In order to keep air flowing in the right direction, slightly opening a window, even a little bit, can help balance the pressure and keep things flowing the way they should.

3. Make sure your chimney isn’t too cold

It might seem like a funny thing to say that a chimney can be too cold, but when hot air is introduced to cold air there can be a pressure fight. In the case of your chimney, the cold air already in the flue will act as a shield to the outside world and force downdrafts into the home.

A top-sealing chimney damper will help solve the problem of a cold chimney. These seal tightly at the top of the flue, so that cold air will stay out of your chimney altogether.

Another option is to warm your flue. Roll up a newspaper, light the top, then hold it near the top of your firebox until the draft changes direction. Then, you should good to light your fire.

Give Our Technicians a Call

Smoke from your fireplace coming into your home is never a good thing, but Owens Chimney Systems can help you solve the problem. Reach out by calling us at 704-486-1146 today