Answers to a Top FAQ: Why is my Fireplace Smoky?
Homeowners are right to expect fireplace smoke to go up their chimney and not into the room. Unfortunately, however, smoky fireplaces are not uncommon. Smokiness spoils the terrific ambiance that makes fireplaces such a pleasure in freezing weather. It’s a nuisance and can be a health threat. There are many different causes of a smoky fireplace. Help from an expert chimney technician is often required, to pinpoint the source of the problem. The following are among the numerous reasons fireplaces are smoky.
Open the Damper
The purpose of a closed damper is to prevent an exchange of air from the home to the chimney and vice versa. Once you know the importance of the damper, it’s generally something you’ll never forget. Someone new to fireplaces may try to start a fire with the damper closed and not know why all the smoke billows into the home. Others simply forget that opening the damper is the first thing to do when you’re ready to use your fireplace or wood stove.
A Cold Chimney Needs Priming
If the fireplace is especially smoky when you are first getting a fire started, the cause could be a cold chimney. This scenario is most common when a chimney is on an outside wall. In cold winter conditions, a column of cold air can fill the chimney flue. The chimney may need to be warmed up. Make a newspaper torch or other type of kindling that you can hold up to the damper. Sometimes this step is needed more than once, to prime the chimney. Then you’re all set for smoke-free use of your fireplace.
A Cap Could Help
A smoky fireplace is often caused by wind forcing air down into the chimney more quickly than the rate at which the flue is drawing smoke out. This type of wind condition can be worse because of the chimney’s height and possibly also the dynamics of the roof. In any event, having a chimney cap installed can virtually eliminate the problem of wind blowing toxic smoke into your home.
Burn Seasoned Wood
If you burn green or unseasoned wood, the fire will be smoky every time. Moisture in the wood is the problem. When trees are cut, they are fairly bursting with moisture. Logs should be cut, split, and stacked in a way that allows sun and wind to dry it out. Wood requires approximately 6 to 12 months to dry out enough to make good firewood. When you burn wet wood, the fire burns out the moisture, creating a lot of smoke, and very little heat is useful for keeping warm. Since the fire isn’t hot when you burn green wood, the chimney usually doesn’t work properly and the fireplace smokes.
For a chimney to work properly, proper drafting is necessary. When a house is airtight and well-insulated, the necessary air for the fireplace and chimney may be in short supply. Opening a window is sometimes necessary, for smoke to go up the chimney. If exhaust fans are running in the kitchen and/or the bathroom, negative pressure could be created that disrupts fireplace drafting.
Chimney Cleaning Needed
If chimney maintenance is neglected, the result can be that creosote builds up enough to create blockage in the chimney. The flue is a small space as it is. When creosote builds up, the passageway narrows even further and the fireplace will start smoking.
Contact the qualified experts at Burlington Fireplace and Solar for chimney cleaning plus any repairs needed to keep your fireplace and chimney in good working condition. Call 262-763-3522 today to make sure your fireplace isn’t smoky when the cold weather returns.