Fireplace problems are numerous. One of the most common problems is smoking. Smoke and air come out of the fireplace and into your home. There are many causes for these symptoms. Here we will describe the various problems and situations that can cause smoking and offer possible solutions for each of them.
This problem is caused by a lack of available air to replace the air leaving your chimney. Homes built today are much more air tight than older houses. Weather proofing, which prevents air from entering your modern home, causes the air pressure in your house to drop when you have a fire. Typically the air is replaced by drawing air into the unused chimney flue along with smoke from the flue that is being used. The smoke then enters your home through the unused fireplace. The best solution is to provide another source of air entering your home. Cracking a window or door close to the fireplace you are using can do this. You can also install a fireplace vent that will bring outside air directly into your fireplace eliminating the problem of drafts from the cracked window or door. Other secondary solutions would be to install a top-sealing damper on the unused chimney flue. You could also try raising the flue of the unused chimney 6 – 12 inches.
This problem is caused by a rapid change in the air available to your chimney. Try opening the door(s) slowly to give the fire time to adjust to the new air. You can also open the dampers all the way a few minutes before you are going to open the door. Doing this will make the fire hotter and increase the draw of your chimney.
This problem is caused by a rapid change in the air pressure in your home. Introducing an outside air source should solve this problem.
There are numerous causes for this problem. One of those causes is faulty construction of the chimney. Your chimney should be at least two feet above any structure that is within ten feet of the flue opening. Even following this rule a short chimney may need to be raised several feet in order draw properly.
A flue liner that is improperly sized for your stove probably causes this problem. Relining your chimney with a flue of the proper size will solve this problem. Consult your stove manufacturer for the specific size liner needed. Pyramid Masonry can also help you with this problem by inspecting your chimney and stove and making recommendations for a solution.
Your chimney must have been obstructed by something. Look at the top of the chimney to see if trees or vines have grown over the opening. Creosote may have built up on the chimney cap or in your flue. Look at the cap and make sure the screens haven’t been clogged. Also, check the flue for creosote build up or other obstructions, such as animal nests. If you do have animals living in your flue you should call a professional nuisance animal removal service. You don’t want to risk being bitten and possibly contracting rabies. Call Pyramid Masonry if you think you need your chimney cleaned and inspected.
These intermittent smoking problems are the hardest kind to pin point a source. The wind could be blowing the smoke back down your flue. You could try a specially designed chimney cap for the wind problem or even an electric exhaust fan.
The chimney gases in your flue haven’t had a chance to heat up yet so the draw won’t be very strong at first. Be patient. Check your damper to make sure it is fully open. Before you light your fire, hold a piece of lit newspaper up into the flue opening or as close as you can to the stove outlet inside the stove to get the draft going and then try to light your wood. On some stoves you may need to leave the doors open until the fire has gotten a good start. Remember not to leave your stove unattended with the doors open.