There is nothing worse than spending time to get a fire roaring in your fireplace only to have a room filled with smoke moments later. Smoking problems are a major complaint amongst many home owners. There are many different ways to go about fixing this problem, but you must have patience. Sometimes the answer is simple, other times it’s more complex.
Cold air is much heavier than warm air. The warm air should rise out of your chimney, including the smoke produced. If your flue system is not warm when lighting the fire then you can alter the ability of the fireplace to draw properly, creating potentially harmful smoking problems. A warm air siphon must be created before a fire can burn properly and draw correctly.
Tip #1: Crack a window
The quickest and easiest tip to creating a good draw for your chimney is to crack a window in the same room you are lighting the fire in. This will bring pressure into the room, causing air to be drawn up the chimney and allowing the smoke to move upwards and out, not into your living room.
Tip #2: Pre-heat with some newspapers
Pre-heating your flue system is another quick and easy tip to getting a roaring fire. Rolling up five or six newspapers and lighting them in the fireplace will help to warm up the flue and create a good siphon. This process may take five or ten minutes but can be critical to having a properly drawing fireplace. Also, make sure your damper is propped wide open or the smoke won’t be able escape.
Tip #3: Install a Smoke-Guard
If these quick fixes are still not helping your situation, you may need to look into some more expensive but effective solutions. One of the easiest of these is the Smoke-Guard. If your firebox is too big for your flue system, more smoke can accumulate in the firebox than can safely draft up the chimney. The excess smoke has nowhere to go but back out into your house. Install a Smoke-Guard, a strip of metal to increase the size of the opening of your chimney, can immediately solve smoking problems. This makes the ratio of the fireplace opening to the flue size more compatible.
Here’s how to tell if your fireplace opening is too large for your flue:
- Determine the area of your flue. If it is rectangular or square, multiply the flue’s length by its width. If it is a round flue, use the radius (half of the diameter.) Multiply 3.14 x radius x radius.
- Determine the area of your fireplace opening. Multiply the height of your fireplace opening by its width.
- Compare them. If the area of your fireplace opening is more than 10 times the area of your flue, your smoke problems may stem from your fireplace opening being too large for your flue. A smoke guard will effectively reduce the size of your fireplace opening.
Tip #4: Extend your chimney
If your chimney does not extend high enough above your roof line, or there are nearby trees or other flue systems, this can cause competition for proper drafting. Negative pressure can build up into a tightly sealed home very quickly, which means that the air pressure outside the home is greater than inside the home. If the chimney is not tall enough, air and smoke can easily enter the home to fill the discrepancy between the two pressures. Extending your chimney by a few feet can be costly but may be the only way solve a chimney smoke problem.