Winter is fast approaching, and the balmy indoors are starting to once again appear very appealing. If your home features a fireplace, you may decide to make use of it in the cool season. After all, what could be better on a blistering winter day than cozying up to the warmth of a blazing fire with a mug of hot cocoa and a comfy couch to take it all in?
Many homeowners who enjoy the crackling heat of a fireplace fire also report that they have almost no luck with containing the smoke to within the fireplace flue, or chimney. Instead, they experience billowy smoke wafting into their living room. If you’ve got a functional fireplace and a wish to use it, then the following tips will help you experience your fireplace as intended—without the unwanted smoky guest entering uninvited into your home.
In a functional fireplace, an upward draft pulls fireplace smoke upwards and through the chimney or flue. When the smoke escapes via the fireplace opening, a faulty draft can be the culprit. Numerous reasons cause poor drafting.
Here’s how to prevent smoke from coming out of the fireplace:
Outside warmth can affect how well a fireplace drafts. The greater the difference between inside air temps and the outside temperature, the increased likelihood a fireplace will send its smoke through the chimney. During warm weather, a fireplace easily sends puffs of smoke into the indoors through the fireplace opening. Experts suggest burning a fire when the outside temperature is cold.
A fireplace damper must remain fully open when burning a fire. If there is the possibility that a second damper at the top of the chimney or a rain cap are obstructed, the wispy wafts of fireplace smoke will flow through the only alternative opening—the one leading into your home. Hire a specialist to inspect the dampers in your chimney for any blockages.
Cleaning the chimney is an integral part of home and chimney maintenance. A chimney sweeper can clean the creosote buildup that naturally occurs when fireplaces burn. Creosote is a mix of tar and soot that results from burning wood. This black residue coats the interior of a chimney in three stages:
- First degree creosote buildups can be easily cleaned with a chimney brush.
- Second degree creosote accumulations often occur in fireplaces with glass doors. The creosote is thicker and a bit more difficult to remove.
- A buildup of third degree creosote can be very thick and concentrated. A chimney that is uncleaned for extensive durations will show third degree creosote buildups, where layers upon layers of creosote have thickened and hardened.
Creosote can catch fire, so it is important to hire a chimney sweeper to perform an inspection and cleaning at least once a year.
A tightly insulated home may supply inadequate outside air into the fireplace. Negative air pressure results. The solution is to install an outside air supply vent into the fireplace. The prime scenario for a fireplace is when the burning wood has plenty of air to allow the combustion process to work efficiently. You can perform a simple test to determine if insufficient air flow is the problem: open a window in the room in which the burning fireplace is located. If the fireplace only then draws properly, meaning the smoke is sent upwards into the flue, then the home’s existing air flow requires attention.
Excellent firewood quality ensures that the fire’s smoke travels through the flue. Firewood that contains very low moisture content will burn far better and produce a stronger draft than firewood that is damp. Wet firewood is unable to produce enough heat when burning, resulting in the chimney’s inefficient draw. Testing the moisture levels within firewood is as easy as clunking two small pieces of firewood together: Wet firewood produces a low-level thud. You hear a crisp, snapping sound when dry wood is hit. Burn the driest firewood in your fireplace to encourage optimum draw into the chimney—not into your living room.
A well-designed fireplace will yield numerous benefits, including the smoke blowing into properly into the chimney. Experts say that the fireplace should be built with proper flue volume, proportionate ratio of the size of the fireplace opening, best chimney size that is comparable to the size of your home and suitable smoke shelf construction. Redesigning a fireplace can cost thousands of dollars. Instead, install a fireplace grate as a cost-efficient substitute.
A steel or cast iron grate is ideal for burning wood in fireplaces. A grate offers significantly improved drafting by lifting the fire off the ground. In effect, air moves underneath the fire and allows smoke to draft through the chimney.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy Your Fireplace
Fireplaces were built so that homeowners enjoy its functions. Ensuring you reap more benefit than hassle from a fireplace is achievable, as illustrated. Perhaps your home’s walls may have been tainted with smoke from your fireplace. Or, soot from the fireplace may have damaged your home’s ceilings. Even the smell of smoke may linger within your home. The unpleasant results of smoke or fire can be properly handled by fire and smoke damage restoration specialists.
Residents in the Lancaster County areas rely on ServiceMaster of Lancaster County to restore any and all fire and smoke damaged goods or property. Technicians at ServiceMaster of Lancaster County use advanced chemical cleaning products and high-tech equipment to salvage any items damaged by soot or smoke. Never try to clean soot from porous surfaces, like the walls of your home that surround the fireplace. Leave this task to the experts.
Fire and smoke damage restoration technicians are trained to safely remove soot rather than pushing it further into porous surfaces. It is important to contact a fire and smoke damage restoration company immediately upon noticing fire or smoke damage. The ruinous effects of smoke and fire destruction are permanent unless treated in a timely manner.