Chimney Smoke & Draft Problems? Get Help From Lou Curley’s Chimney Service

Do you have trouble keeping the fire in your fireplace lit? Does smoke waft into your room every time you sit down to enjoy a nice evening by the fire? Do you notice smoke in your basement when you have a fire going in the fireplace upstairs? All of these are symptoms of a draft or air pressure problem within the home, but we can help.

One of the most unpleasant things about fireplaces is the smell of smoke. Not only does the smell linger on clothing, furniture, and in your hair, but the presence of it can make your eyes water. When smoke begins to fill inside your home when you light a fire, it can really put a damper – pun intended – on an otherwise warm and cozy evening. 

It doesn’t take a chimney and fireplace expert to know the presence of smoke in your home is cause for concern. It not only affects indoor air quality, but also poses potential safety risks. While hundreds of different factors can lead to draft and smoke problems, we’re experts at diagnosing and correcting these problems quickly and for good. We’ve taken the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) Chimney Physics class, as well as many other classes offered through the National Fireplace Institute (NFI), and we know what to look for and what to do to resolve smoke and draft issues.

Don’t wait to find the resolutions you need. Trust us to help. Call or schedule your appointment online now.

Why Is My Chimney Smoky & Drafty?

Here are the two most common common culprits:

#1 Problems with the flue. If the flue is blocked, damaged, cold, or too small for the appliance it’s venting, you’ll likely have smoke coming from the fireplace opening itself.

  • The solution to a flue blockage is to have the flue cleaned by a CSIA-certified professional. Once the blockage is removed, the flue should effectively remove smoke from the home when a fire is going.
  • The solution to a damaged flue is to either repair with HeatShield® or reline the flue with a new stainless steel liner. Holes and cracks can slow the removal of smoke, so sealing these holes and cracks or installing a new liner that’s free of damage will work to eliminate smoke and draft issues.
  • The solution to a cold flue is to hold a lit, rolled up newspaper up in the flue before lighting a fire in the fireplace. This just helps to warm and prep the flue so smoke will rise up and out of the chimney more easily.
  • The solution to an improperly sized flue is to have the flue relined. Here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service, we reline with stainless steel liners, which come in a variety of sizes, are approved for use with all fuel types, and provide a lifetime of service. We also install the Ahren-Fire Fireplace Restoration System, which may be the perfect solution to your flue size-related draft issues.
Dormer on roof beside chimney.  We also repair smoke and draft problems.

#2 Crossdraft/Inadequate fresh air in the home. In order to achieve proper draft, the appliance needs adequate intake air. But with homes being so airtight, sometimes the appliance looks elsewhere for make-up air to feed the fire, pulling air in through other fireplaces, stoves, or vents. When pulling that outside air in, the smoke that’s being exhausted through the chimney is often pulled down in with the make-up air, which is why, when you have a fire going, you may see smoke in your basement or coming out of a fireplace or stove that’s not being used.

Is It Normal for a Fireplace to Produce Some Smoke?

So, you have a bit of a smoking fireplace problem, but it’s not anything too crazy? How much smoke is cause for concern? Is any amount of smoke normal?

A properly functioning fireplace will produce minimal visible smoke inside the home. This happens more often when you first light a fire or add wood to an existing fire – and it should dissipate quickly as the fire gets going and the chimney’s draft takes over. 

However, if your fireplace is consistently producing a significant amount of smoke that fills the room, this is not considered normal. It actually indicates a problem somewhere in the fireplace or chimney. As mentioned above, excessive smoke can be caused by various factors, such as poor ventilation, airflow blockages, malfunctioning chimney components, or even the wrong type of firewood. In cases like these, it’s important we identify and address the underlying issue so you can get back to enjoying a safe and efficient fireplace as soon as possible.

If you’re looking for a sign to prioritize scheduling your fireplace’s inspection and cleaning, consistent smoke production should be a clear one. Lou Curley Chimney Sweep happens to be a trusted name in the industry, and can provide professional services to address any issues. Don’t wait for these problems to escalate – reach out to us now to schedule a thorough inspection and cleaning.

Are There Any Safety Concerns Associated With a Smoky Fireplace?

Although the smell of a wood burning fire can’t be beat, it doesn’t necessarily mean you want one producing excess smoke inside your home. The biggest health concern from smoke is the fine particles. These tiny particles, known as PM2.5, are the reason why you may experience burning eyes and a runny nose. They can also penetrate deep into your lungs and even enter your bloodstream, making asthma symptoms worse, or even trigger heart attacks, stroke, irregular heart rhythms, and heart failure.

One dangerous pollutant found in wood smoke is carbon monoxide. Unlike smoke, carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Exposure to it can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, nausea, and even unconsciousness. In severe cases, when symptoms are not promptly addressed, it can even lead to death.

There are other pollutants in wood smoke that are suspected of causing cancer and contributing to various lung problems. So, even though the sight and aroma of a wood-burning fire is one that can’t be matched for coziness and charm, it’s important for you and your family to always prioritize safety by using the right firewood, ensuring good ventilation, and implementing proper fireplace maintenance.

How Do I Stop My Fireplace From Smoking in My House?

If smoke is coming from your fireplace every time you light a fire, it might not be as bad as you think. There are several steps you can take to improve the situation before you give Lou Curley Chimney Sweep a call. We recommend you try the following: 

  • Use a Fireplace Grate: Elevating the wood on a grate can improve airflow and combustion efficiency, which reduces smoke production. This not only ensures a steady source of heat with minimal smoke but also decreases the emission of harmful pollutants into the air, making your fireplace experience cleaner and more eco-friendly.
  • Crack a Window: Have you ever complained about how stuffy your house feels and had to open a window? Your fireplace might be telling you the same thing. Cracking a window in the same room as your fireplace can create a cross-draft, allowing fresh air to enter. This should also help push the smoke up the chimney, where it belongs. 
  • Check the Damper: The chimney damper should be fully open anytime you go to light a fire. If it’s even partially closed, the restricted airflow will cause smoke to back up into your home.
  • Always Use the Right Firewood: By now, it probably sounds like we are beating a dead horse. But we can’t reiterate enough how important it is to use the right kind of firewood. In order to achieve the best burn, your firewood should be well-seasoned, dry, and free from excessive moisture. This means you should wait at least six to twelve months for it to dry properly before throwing it in the fireplace. 
  • Build the Fire Upside Down: Instead of stacking larger logs on top of smaller sticks and kindling, try an upside down fire method. This technique involves placing the largest logs on bottom, followed by medium logs, and then kindling, smaller twigs, and newspaper on top. Lighting the fire from top down allows for better combustion. As the flames work their way through the wood, it produces less smoke and a more efficient, longer-lasting fire. 
  • Consider a Fireplace Insert: If you’re ready to ditch all the time and effort that’s required to maintain a wood-burning fire, then it might be time to consider a fireplace insert. These units are efficient, convenient, and can be installed within your existing fireplace. With an insert, you can enjoy a warm and cozy fire without the hassles and smoke. 
  • Consult a Chimney Technician: If you’ve exhausted all other options and your fireplace continues to produce excessive smoke, then it’s time to call in a certified chimney technician. These professionals have the expertise and proper equipment to diagnose and repair more complex issues. Whether that be because of structural problems, improper design, or hidden blockages, you can count on the chimney technicians at Lou Curley Chimney Sweep to identify the root problem and provide effective solutions.

Our Team Is Certified, Experienced & Capable of Tackling Your Chimney Draft Problems

Whatever’s causing your smoke or draft problems, you can be confident that the experienced and trained team here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service can offer a solution. We’re CSIA-certified Chimney Sweeps, CSIA Master Chimney Sweeps, CSIA-certified Chimney Specialists, National Fireplace Institute (NFI) Master Hearth Specialists, F.I.R.E. registered Hearth Advisors, and have received a host of other industry certifications.

Don’t deal with a smoky or poorly performing fireplace any longer — call 610-626-2439 or fill out our online appointment request form to schedule your smoke/draft diagnostics appointment today.


 The Ahren-Fire Fireplace Restoration system is a great solution to many chimney and fireplace repair needs. Ask us for more information to see if it’s an option for your situation.