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Why is My Fireplace Pushing Smoke Into The House?

smoky fireplace, the woodlands txOne of the primary reasons we get calls for chimney services at Guardian Chimney Sweeps is because of a smoky fireplace. Pushing smoke into the house is not the way fireplaces are supposed to operate, of course. Even though this is a common problem, the solution is usually not obvious. The help of a qualified chimney sweep is usually needed when a chimney is back puffing. Some of the most common reasons for a smoky fireplace follow.

Closed Damper

The simplest answer is sometimes the right one when it comes to a smoky fireplace. Failing to open the chimney damper is normal. Some people forget and others are unaware that it must be opened before starting a fire.

The damper allows combustion fumes to go up the chimney and to the outdoors. The damper is just above the firepit in the throat of the chimney. There are various mechanisms used for operating a damper, but all are easy to access. As an example, it is sometimes necessary to turn a knob to open the damper.

Negative Air Pressure

For a chimney draft to operate properly and prevent the fireplace from being smoky, there must be air coming into the fireplace. Many modern homes are tightly sealed so that no air is leaking in and causing HVAC costs to be higher than what is necessary. This has the disadvantage of creating negative air pressure that adversely affects the operation of a wood-burning fireplace or heating stove.

An easy test to determine whether a smoky fireplace is caused by negative air pressure is to simply open a nearby window. If an open window solves the problem, you have found the reason your fireplace is pushing smoke into your house.

An open window provides a short-term fix. Among the permanent solutions is to have a chimney mason install an air supply vent behind the firebox.

A Chimney Flue Obstruction

The chimney draft cannot operate if the chimney flue is obstructed. The most common blockage is caused by a dirty chimney. Creosote is the primary culprit. Wood fires create this tar-like, highly flammable substance that builds up in layers along the walls of the chimney flue. Regular chimney cleaning to remove the creosote is necessary to prevent buildup.

Other types of “debris” include leaves, twigs, and birds’ nests. If you have a chimney cap with mesh installed, it will help prevent chimney blockage by keeping out debris, snakes, squirrels, raccoons, bats, and other living creatures.

Annual chimney inspections are highly recommended by fire safety experts. Oftentimes, chimney blockage is discovered during a chimney inspection.

houston tx great wood fireplacesInsufficient Temperature Differential

In the Greater Houston Area of Texas, people who love to use their fireplace are forced to use patience due to year-round summer-like temperatures. When waiting becomes a bit too much, homeowners will often light the fireplace even though the outdoor temperature is less than 20 degrees colder than the indoor temperature. An indoor-outdoor temperature differential of 20 degrees or more is necessary for the chimney draft to be able to work properly.

Contact Guardian Chimney Sweeps Today

The CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Guardian Chimney Sweeps can help homeowners by determining the cause of a smoky fireplace. We also offer chimney masonry repairs, chimney cleaning, and chimney inspections. If you live in the Houston or Conroe area, Guardian Chimney Sweeps is the place to call when the fireplace is pushing smoke into your house. Satisfaction with our services is guaranteed. Give us a call today at one of the numbers below or fill out our contact form.

Toll-free: (888) 306-6069

Conroe: (936) 271-9781

Houston: (713) 401-2011