No one likes smoky fireplaces. Not only is the odor a problem, but the smoke itself can be hazardous to breathe. Our staff at Winston’s Chimney Service have dealt with many smoky fireplaces, and different things can be causing smoke to come out of your fireplace instead of going up the chimney as it should. Fireplaces can become smoky at different times, but we would like to focus on fireplaces that only become smoky when you start a fire. We wanted to share with you what can cause smoky fireplace startups and how Winston’s Chimney Service can help solve those problems.



Your fireplace damper is an essential component of your fireplace and chimney system, and you should know how to use your damper correctly. Your damper should always be open as far as it can open before you start a fire in the fireplace. After the fire is out, you should close the damper to keep the heated air in and the cold outside air out. Many times, Winston’s Chimney Service gets calls about smoky fireplace startups, and when we get to the homes, we discover the damper is closed completely or partially closed. Some people feel that if the damper is partially closed during a fire, more heat will come into the room. This is not the case. You will get more smoke than heat in the room when the damper is partially closed during a fire. We have also found broken dampers that are unable to completely open or close. We can easily fix or replace broken dampers to keep the smoke out of your room.


When you first open the damper, the flue is going to be cold, especially if your fireplace and chimney is built on the outside of your home. Never attempt to light a fire if you feel cold air coming down the chimney. Trying to light a fire with cold air rushing down the chimney will result in smoke being forced back into the house. This problem is an easy fix. According to, you must first prime the flue by lighting a rolled-up newspaper and holding it up as high into the flue as you can. Once you feel the draft reverse, you can then ignite your fire.


If your chimney is partially or completely blocked, this can also cause issues, including some hazardous problems if you try to start a fire. You can end up with smoke and toxic gases like carbon monoxide entering your home. Leaves, debris, animal nests, and an internal collapse of your chimney’s brickwork can all create chimney blockages. If you suspect your chimney is blocked, call Winston’s Chimney Service right away. We will come inspect your chimney, clear the blockage, and see what we can do to prevent more blockages.

Have questions about smoky fireplace startups? Contact Winston’s Chimney Service for answers and assistance with dealing with a smoky fireplace.

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109