How to Troubleshoot a Smoky Fireplace

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A smoky fireplace is one of the primary concerns homeowners have when they call us. Several things can cause the fireplace to smoke, so we want to tell you about them today. You may be able to troubleshoot the issue and fix it without our help!

  • Cold Air Coming Down the Flue: Hot air rises and cold air settles. Smoke is essentially polluted hot air, so it rises. But it’s lighter than cold air, so cold air in the chimney can push smoke back down into the room. Try lighting some newspaper or kindling and holding it up inside the firebox area to allow the air inside the chimney to warm before starting a fire.
  • Damper is Not Open or Not Properly Functioning: You should feel some cool air coming into the firebox from the damper if it is open. A closed damper will not allow heated air and smoke to pass through, and will push it back into the room.
  • Poor Air Supply: A fireplace consumes quite a lot of air while it is operational. A clothes dryer or fan may be competing with the fireplace and not allowing the proper amount of air flow.
  • Another Flue Sharing the Chimney: Two flues can share the same chimney, but it can lead to smoke in one room or the other as the fireplaces are used. Block off one of the fireplaces by closing the damper and the smoke should stop.
  • Misplacement of the Andiron: The andiron, or the fire grate, may be too close to the front of the firebox. Smoke travels up and, like water, takes the path of least resistance. Move the andiron toward the middle of the firebox, or move it back by inches at a time and see if that stops the smoke problem.
  • Unseasoned Wood: Un-or-Under-seasoned wood will create extra smoke. Make sure you only burn well-seasoned wood that contains less than 25% moisture. Get a digital wood moisture meter so you can test the wood before burning.

Fireplace Safety and Chimney Inspections in Havertown

We have two CSIA Certified chimney sweeps standing by to assist you with your chimney needs. Give us a call at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a chimney inspection or cleaning. We provide chimney services throughout Havertown and the Main Line region.

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