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Why Does My Fireplace Smoke Up The House? 

By Lawrence Macmillan August 15, 2021

My passions have never jumped out of the fireplace and set fire to the carpet - Mason Cooley 

Curling up in front of an open fireplace with a good book, surrounded by your nearest and dearest as the nights draw in and get colder and darker is something that most of us idly spend our days fantasizing about.  And the reality, regardless of how much you amplify it in your mind’s eye, will always exceed the limitations of your dreams as there’s nothing quite like relaxing in front of an open fire.

But even when your fire-fueled fantasies do become a reality, fate can step in and upend your carefully laid plan with a little smokey mischief and mayhem that’ll send you coughing and spluttering and scurrying for the door.

If that does happen and your house begins to fill with smoke as soon as you light your fire, it can be dangerous and the smoke can permeate and eventually ruin all of the carpets and soft furnishings in your home. 

Don’t worry and don’t panic, the good news is that it’s almost certainly a problem that you can easily address and fix, and even in the incredibly unlikely event that it isn’t and the issue is slightly more serious, the sooner that you do deal with it, the less expensive and traumatic it’ll be to get it sorted.  

As we’ve already said though, in all likelihood the reason that your house fills with smoke as soon as you light your fire is probably due to a number of easy-to-address problems.

And we’re going to run through them, tell you the simple solutions that you can use to ensure that they don’t happen again so that the smoke in your home becomes a thing of the past and you can finally start to enjoy relaxing in front of your fireplace. 

There’s No Smoke Without Fire

There is no smoke without fire, and if there’s a problem with your chimney, that smoke isn’t going to go where it should, and will almost certainly spill out of the fireplace and begin to fill your house. Chimneys are designed to draw the smoke up and away from your fire by creating an updraft that sucks the smoke straight out of your house. 

Unfortunately, as efficient as they are, chimneys can and do tend to suffer from a series of problems that will cause your fireplace to smoke, which will undoubtedly ruin your day. So let’s take a look at some of the more common chimney troubles and provide you with the easy fix answers that can dispel the smoke and return your home to the happy place that it used to be.

It’s Damper Thing 

Let’s start with the most obvious, and easiest solution, the damper. Most chimneys have some sort of damper (a small panel or hatch just above the fireplace leading into the chimney that can be opened and closed with a handle), which is designed to keep things that can come down your chimney outside and prevent drafts and cold air seeping down it and into your home. 

Check the damper and make sure that it isn’t closed or hasn’t been accidentally shut. If it is closed, it’s almost certainly the reason why your house is filling with smoke and it is spilling out of your fireplace, as the damper is preventing it from flowing up your chimney the way it’s supposed to.

Open the damper, lock it in place and light your fire. With the hatch open the smoke should flow up and away just like it’s supposed to. 

Your Chimney Is Blocked

Your Chimney Is Blocked

If the damper is open and the smoke from your fire still can’t flow up and away through the chimney, then your chimney might be blocked. Over time, as a fire is lit, used, and relit, the carbon and soot that it creates can gradually build up inside the flue of the chimney and block it.

The most straightforward and simplest way to clear that blockage is with a little broom-filled, cleaning help from a chimney sweep, who thanks to the magic of the internet and the whole world being online, should be easy to find. 

However, if you don’t use your fire a lot, the blockage in your chimney might be the result of a pair of birds deciding to set up home and nest in it. It isn’t uncommon for birds to nest in chimneys, and in some cases to get trapped in them while attempting to seek shelter from incremental weather.

That’s why it’s important to have your chimney checked every twelve to twenty-four months by a professional sweep, as it’ll ensure that it’s free of blockages and if there is some sort of occlusion, it can be safely removed before your fireplace starts smoking. 

Cold Flue

Occasionally a flue can be plagued by columns of cold air, and whether the issue is caused by poor design or some other internal problem, the result is always the same. The smoke from your fireplace won’t be able to flow up and out of your chimney. 

In the worst-case scenario, the cold air in your chimney will actually stop the warm, smoke-laden air from rising, but it’s more likely to make your fire burn more slowly, which means that the smoke from your fire will spill into your home instead of rising and escaping through the chimney.

The only solution to a cold flue is to call in a professional and leave your chimney-related issues in their more than capable hands. 

The Fuel You’re Using

If you’re burning wood in your fireplace, it could be the source of your smoke-related dilemma. Burning green wood in your fireplace will create far more smoke than your chimney will be able to handle, and the smoke will inevitably end up flowing into your home, and if you’re burning wet wood you’ll run into exactly the same problem.

The logs that you burn in your fireplace should be sourced responsibly and kept in a cool dry environment before you throw them on your fire and burn them. Dry wood won’t smoke, so be careful where, and how you store the wood that you’re going to burn in your fireplace, and as long as you are, smoke won’t be an issue that you’ll ever have to worry about. 


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