Dear Superior Chimney,
I’m concerned about the fireplace smoke that came into my family room. With the cooler temperatures, I was excited to get started with the use of my fireplace. Why was the fireplace smoking? And how can I be sure it doesn’t happen again?
These are great questions that many others can benefit from. So, let’s tackle the answer.
To begin, smoke, a byproduct and any tiny pieces from unburned wood is the result of a fireplace burn. A healthy fireplace and chimney work together to push the smoke, byproduct and unburned wood up the chimney flue and out of the home. At the same time… air is “pulled” into the fireplace to keep your fire burning. This critical cycle is called a chimney draft.
Indoor / Outdoor Temperatures
Fireplace smoke backing up in your home can occur when the indoor and outdoor temperatures are similar. When temperatures are approximately 20 degrees different, a strong draft develops, creating a healthy ‘push’ – ‘pull’ effect. When temperatures are too close together, the draft becomes weaker and greater the chance of smoke settling in your home.
Chimney Cap Installation
Chimney caps play an important role with fireplace smoke. If the chimney does not have a chimney cap, then water or snow can enter the chimney flue lowering the temperature at the base (or the fireplace), making it difficult for draft to occur. The chimney cap helps to keep a healthy flow of air going in the chimney. The chimney cap also serves as a deterrent for wind downdrafts, animals, debris, etc.
Blocked Chimney Flue
You knew this was coming. If the chimney flue is blocked, it’s obvious to assume the fireplace smoke has no place to go…but come back inside. The critical importance of a chimney cap is keeping rain, snow, debris and animals from getting inside of the chimney flue.
In addition, if there’s creosote build up in the chimney flue, this can also be quite dangerous. Creosote is a highly flammable material. Creosote needs to be cleaned and removed from the chimney flue to keep the health of the chimney intact. For these types of issues, it’s best for a certified chimney technician to evaluate the situation.
There are other fireplace smoke questions you can ask yourself to ensure the fireplace smoke stays out of the home. Top 3 Questions include:
- Is the chimney damper fully open? A partially closed damper can cause the smoke to stay indoors.
- Is the firewood green or wet from rain or snow?
- When was the last time the chimney was cleaned? Is it dirty?
If the answer is ‘yes’, you have all or maybe only part of the situation resolved. Again, if smoke is coming in your home, it’s best to have it checked by a certified chimney professional.
Now that you know what you need to do to keep the fireplace smoke from entering your home, keep your fireplace and chimney healthy with a chimney clean and check with our 14-point inspection. You’ll have peace of mind that you and your family and friends can enjoy a fire in the fireplace. Happy Fall!