One of the easiest and best ways to test the safety of a chimney is performing what is called a smoke test. This might be necessary under a variety of conditions. One of the most obvious situations that may require this is dealing with a very old chimney, especially one that has not been used in a while. Generally, it is advisable that a smoke test be carried out after a chimney installation. This can also be done during a chimney construction as well.

The Purpose of a Smoke Test

A chimney smoke test is to determine whether there are problems with the flue which might leak gases while a fireplace or wood stove is being used. It works simply by creating pressure in the flue. To do this, the top and bottom of the chimney will have to be sealed off temporarily. The smoke will have nowhere to go but through any spaces between the masonry joints. Smoke can also escape at the points where the flue pipes are connected.

Performing Your Own Smoke Test

It is best to have a chimney professional do a smoke test so that you can be sure that it is functioning correctly. You can perform your own basic test to know if your chimney flue is functioning the way it should.

  1. After closing off the chimney warm the flue by burning kindling or paper. This will get the air flow going and it will only take a few minutes.
  2. Burn some smoke pellets in the flue opening. If there is not enough smoke you may need to add a few more.
  3. Seal the flue opening after you start to see smoke.
  4. Look for smoke starting to fill the room.

If your smoke test suggests that there is a leak, call a chimney profession to have a more conclusive test done. This will not only get results, steps can be taken to deal with any defects in your flue. The smoke should be pulled into the flue even with the chimney closed off.

A smoke test can show that there is a problem with your flue, but there could be an obstruction in the chimney itself. Other possible reasons for a failed smoke test are improper flue liner jointing and problems with the flue installation.

Give us a call at Lou Curley’s Chimney service at 610-626-2439 if you’d like to schedule a full chimney and fireplace inspection or discuss issues you’re having with your chimney. Both of the chimney inspectors who work here are CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) certified and pursue continued education and additional certifications throughout the year. We’re confident that we’re the solution to all of your chimney needs.