Are Smoke Issues & Poor Draft Affecting Your Home? We Can Help

When it comes to running your fireplace efficiently, proper draft and airflow is a vital part of the equation.

Poor chimney draft is known for sending smoke and harmful fumes in your living space, and it can contribute to creosote buildup in your flue system too. Fortunately, we know all about what typically causes this – and how to fix it.

But before we get started, one quick question… Is your damper closed? This is an all-too-common mistake that is easily solved without the need for professional assistance. Just open it up, and you’re good to go.

Common Causes of Poor Draft

  • Improperly Sized Chimney: When a chimney flue is too small for the firebox, smoke will not be able to draft effectively up through it. Ask our experts about the best setup for your system.
  • Wrong Chimney Height: If the chimney is too short or too tall, you’re bound to face problems. It should be examined by a professional and sized accordingly in regards to the appliance you’re using and your roof’s properties.
  • Close Proximity to Trees & Buildings: Nearby trees and buildings can play a part in forcing air down the chimney, which then affects the pressure system in your home. End result? A smoky living space.
  • Negative Pressure in Your Home: When a chimney doesn’t have enough air inside the home to continuously supply it, it has to start to draw air from the outside – i.e. down through the chimney. This is known as negative air pressure, and it’s a big cause for smoke in the home. A fire burns the most efficiently when there is a steady flow of oxygen.
  • Cold Chimney: When the flue system is warm, the products of combustion can float safely out of it. However, if the smoke and fumes from your fire are fighting any cold air in the chimney, they could be pushed down and back into your home.
  • Clogging in Your Flue: Nesting materials in your chimney? Creosote buildup? Did a critter get stuck in there? All of these things can clog up your flue (along with draw in moisture and break down your masonry), which then inhibits proper airflow.

Draft Problem Resolutions

  • Open a window. Looking for a quick solution to your drafting problems? If the issue is negative air pressure, cracking a window near the fire will give you some temporary relief. It essentially gives the fire a fresh air source to draw from, thus correcting the downdraft.
  • Install a smoke guard. A smoke guard can be installed to reduce the size of the firebox which in turn helps it draft better. These devices also prevent cold drafts from coming down through the chimney during the winter months.
  • Have your chimney relined. If the flue is too large, installing a stainless steel liner will reduce the size of it. This is both practical and affordable, and it will benefit your system in more ways than one.
  • Invest in a top-sealing chimney damper. These devices help to eliminate draft when the chimney is not in use. They seal tightly with a rubber gasket, so downdrafts won’t be a problem. They also keep your flue warmer when not in use, so you won’t get pushback from a cold flue when lighting fires.
  • Add some height to your chimney. If your chimney height is not correct, adding a few feet onto the chimney top can help it to draw in air properly. This is one of the more extreme draft fixes, but it’s one we’d be happy to help you with!
  • Schedule a chimney cleaning. If there are things clogging up your chimney, then a sweeping or cleaning may be in order. Our techs can clean out creosote, leaves, nesting materials, twigs, and other buildup, so your system can vent appropriately again.
  • Warm up your flue. By warming up your flue before lighting a fire, you can help to reverse the airflow in your chimney ahead of time. Otherwise, any cold in your flue might force the smoke back down initially. Just tightly roll up a piece of newspaper, light it, and hold it up inside the chimney for a bit.

Are you using the right firewood?

One more thing – a common cause of smoky fireplaces is using unseasoned wood as fuel. What does this mean? Basically that the wood is still wet, so the fire needs to burn through all of the moisture that’s still inside it. This uses up a lot of energy, makes your fires burn less efficiently, and it sends lots of smoke and acidic water into your flue (which then results in more creosote deposits).

Make sure your firewood has been properly seasoned before use. This means it should have been dried out for at least 6 months, so that most of the excess water can dry out.

And the prognosis is…

Ready to hear our diagnosis of your smoky chimney problems? Schedule an inspection today, so that we can get to the bottom of it. Once we get things figured out, we can come up with an effective and straightforward plan for remedying the issue(s) you’re battling.

Our experts are professionally trained to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, and American Chimney has been serving the communities of Cincinnati for over 40 years. If you have a sick chimney, there’s no better crew to rely on than us.

Call 513-474-1158 or fill out our online form to request an appointment.