It’s the end of a long winter day. The sun has gone down and you are ready to relax in front of your fire. You light your fire, get ready to sit back with a good book or movie, and – uh oh – smoke is entering your living space.
The quickest way to make a hard day harder is to find out your fireplace isn’t doing the job it’s supposed to do. Fortunately, the team here at Winston’s Chimney Service are experts in rooting out the problem of unwanted smoke and putting an end to it.
Experiencing Clogs & Blockages?
If smoke is coming from your fireplace, there are a couple of things that are the most likely culprit – clogs and misdirected airflow.
The first thing to check is that there is nothing blocking the passage of exhaust inside your chimney. A stopped up chimney is a bit like a stuffy nose – air has a difficult time getting where it needs to be. And, in the case of your fireplace, smoke is getting exactly where it doesn’t need to be.
Here are a few things to check for to make sure there isn’t something blocking your smoke’s pathway.
- Damper: Chimneys have a damper that you can manually open or close, empowering you to let smoke out when you have a fire, then keep downdrafts out when you don’t. If you forget to open your damper when you light things up, smoke will have no place to go except back into your living room. Easy fix? Make sure your damper is open to let that smoke out.
- Unwelcome Critters: The warm and dry interior of a well-maintained chimney is a desirable location for birds and squirrels to camp out. Even raccoons have been known to set up residence inside the flue of a chimney. Of course, if an animal is inside a chimney, it’s likely that leaves, sticks, and nesting materials are too – and you have yourself a properly plugged-up chimney.
- Creosote Buildup: Creosote is a chemical byproduct of burnt wood. Over time, creosote will build up on the walls on the inside of a chimney. This process can be slowed by burning only dry well-seasoned wood and using a proper sized flue lining. However, without regular sweepings, creosote will collect. And, given enough time, creosote can completely clog a chimney and keep smoke from being able to escape.
In the end, regular sweepings and inspections of your chimney are important for the safety of you, your family, and your home. Call Winston’s Chimney Service today and schedule your next service with one of our CSIA certified chimney sweeps.
Is Improper Airflow the Issue?
Once it has been established that there is nothing blocking your chimney’s airway, we can look into other airflow problems that may be causing the smoke to enter, rather than exit, your home. Here are some things to check into.
1. Is the size of your firebox too big or too small?
If your firebox is too big the flue exhaust may not have the room it needs to allow the smoke to escape. If it is too small, it could be receiving a downdraft from the outside, which will push the smoke into the home. Either way, some modifications may need to be made, and we can help.
2. Is there negative air pressure in the home?
Many newer homes are so well insulated and sealed that air doesn’t move throughout the house as easily. This can cause a negative pressure system that will actually suck outside air in through the chimney when a fire is lit. And the air will carry the smoke right back into your home with it.
3. Is your chimney too cold?
If the chimney is full of cold air, a sudden burst of hot air flowing into it can cause there to be some backdrafting. It’s almost as if the cold air is an invisible wall, which causes the smoke to turn to the inside of the home, rather than up and out through the chimney. This can be helped with the installation of a top-sealing chimney damper.
We also suggest warming your flue with a lit, rolled up newspaper. This can help reverse the airflow before your fire gets going.
Whatever the Issue, We’re Here to Help
The professionals at Winston’s Chimney Service are experts at pinpointing the root cause of any of your smoke-related problems – and we know just what needs to be done to solve them. If you have smoke entering your house, let us help. Give us a call at 703-379-5006 today, or you can request an appointment online.
We’d love to hear from you soon.