Smoking Fireplace? Hire Us To Identify Draft Resolution Issues & Offer Solutions

In a properly-functioning chimney, draft pulls the hot air, gases, and by-products of your fires up your flue and out of your home. Draft is the result of a difference in pressure inside and outside of your home. Those hot chimney gases are lighter than the air in the room, so the air in your chimney rises, reducing pressure in the lower part of the chimney and pulling room air in. Draft is a key part of your chimney’s design and is essential if your system is to work effectively.

When your chimney’s draft is impeded or insufficient, smoke spillage can occur. Smoke is produced when the fuel in your fireplace or stove isn’t totally consumed in the firebox/fireplace. Normally smoke collects in the smoke chamber (above the damper) and exits the chimney (pulled out by draft). Without proper draft, the smoke flows back into your living area, instead of rising up and out of the chimney.

If proper draft isn’t occurring in your chimney, it could be for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • you might have a flue that’s too big or small for the appliance it’s venting
  • you might have a chimney that isn’t high enough to facilitate the right level of draft

As soon as you notice a problem, give Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps a call. We’ll take a close look at your chimney, figure out what’s affecting its proper function, and suggest best case resolutions so that you can enjoy your fireplace system.

How Can I Resolve Chimney Draft Issues?

Smoke and draft issues don’t always mean a need for extensive repairs. There are a few small things you can check for that might be contributing to the problem.

Did You Open Your Damper?
One of the most common mistakes that leads to smoke spillage is a very human oversight. You should never light a fire with a closed damper. If you’re seeing smoke, check to make sure your damper is fully opened. If it isn’t, there will most definitely not be adequate draft and the result will be smoke spillage.

Are You Using Seasoned Cordwood?
Wood that still has moisture in it can contribute to smokey fires. If too much smoke accumulates in the firebox before getting to the smoke chamber (the large bell shaped area above the damper), it likely will be drawn back into the house. Try to only use seasoned, dry hardwood in your fire.

Do You Have A Cold Flue?
Draft can be slow or impeded if the air in your flue is particularly cold. Priming the flue can sometimes help. 

Here’s how to do it: Before lighting a fire, roll up some newspaper into a cone shape, light the larger end, and hold it above the firebox (top edge of burning paper through the damper opening). Pre-warming (priming) the flue can encourage draft, and sometimes gets rid of your smoke problems.

Has Your Chimney Been Swept This Year?
Smoking fireplaces are sometimes just the result of chimneys that are in need of a good sweeping, especially if you have some kind of wood stove. Creosote buildup can constrict the flue, impeding draft, and cause smoke to hang around in the fireplace. If your chimney has been drafting properly and smoking back starts abruptly, you may have experienced a chimney fire. Chimney fires often cause creosote to expand and create blockages.

Do You Have Energy-Efficient Doors And Windows?
New, energy-efficient doors and windows are great for energy savings, but they sometimes don’t allow enough oxygen into the room and into the fireplace to encourage sufficient draft. If you experience drafting problems after the installation of new doors and/or windows, cracking a window or door a little can sometimes give the fire the air it needs for proper draft. This is just a temporary band-aid fix and more appropriate long-term solutions are available for house pressure issues. If opening a door or window helps, ask Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps about permanent solutions for air-flow issues.

Contact Blue Sky!

Do you have a smoking fireplace or a chimney that isn’t drafting properly? Call Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps or click here to schedule an appointment online. We’re experts when it comes to identifying and resolving chimney issues – Let us “Bless Your Hearth”, today!


We can resolve your leaky chimney problems, too, with our chimney troubleshooting expertise. Call on us today.