Where Is All This Smoke Coming From?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to smoke and draft problems in the home. The most common contributors are related to inadequate air flow. When your chimney’s air flow is restricted, smoke will not be able to properly and completely exit through the chimney system. As a result, you may have a backflow of smoke into your home and air supply. Smoke can stain your furniture and walls and can be extremely harmful to your health. There are a number of things that can affect the air flow in your chimney system including flue obstructions, creosote buildup, a closed or damaged damper, improper sizing of the fireplace, poor design, the airtightness of your home, and competing appliances.
- Flue Obstructions – If your chimney lacks a cap and crown, or if either of these is deteriorating, animals and environmental debris can gain access to your chimney system. Oftentimes, animals will nest inside of a chimney because it seems like a warm, safe, and sturdy place to raise a family. Not only does this nesting create smoke problems and inefficiency problems, it is also a fire hazard. Without a professional inspection, it is nearly impossible to know if your flue has an obstruction of any kind.
- Creosote Buildup – Creosote is a natural byproduct of wood-burning, and typically settles on the interior surface of the chimney. Overtime, this accumulation thickens and can greatly reduce air flow within the chimney. Creosote is also a highly-flammable material and should be regularly removed for your safety and the safety of your home.
- A Closed or Improperly-Functioning Damper – Sometimes the cause of smoke problems is a simple one such as a closed or broken damper. A damper acts as a door between your home and your chimney opening and is used to control the amount of air flowing into your fireplace. If your damper is closed or damaged when you use your fireplace, smoke will be trapped and forced to come back into your home.
- Improper Sizing Of The Fireplace/Poor Design – If your fireplace was not designed with the size of your flue in mind, you may experience problems with smoke in your home. When your fireplace is too big for the flue, it takes in more air than the flue can expel. As a result, excess smoke will not be able to make it out of the chimney fast enough and will seep back into your home or settle as creosote.
- Air-Tight Homes – Most modern homes are built airtight for efficiency, which can deprive the chimney of the air that it needs to properly flush smoke out. In homes where this is the cause of smoke problems, an outdoor air source can be installed into the fireplace to help feed air into the home.
- Competing Appliances – Sometimes, your chimney may be starved of air because it is competing with a fan elsewhere in the house. This can trap smoke and even draw it back into the home. You may want to try turning off all bathroom and kitchen fans and dryers while utilizing your fireplace.
What Are You Burning?
Another factor to consider when dealing with a smoke problem is the type of wood you’re burning. If you are burning wood with a high moisture content, the excess moisture will take on the form of excess smoke.