Getting smoked out of a room because of a smoky fireplace or wood stove is not pleasant. Here are reasons why it might be happening and ways to prevent it from happening again.
- The flue is obstructed with:
- Debris from bird or animal nesting material
- Debris from a deteriorating chimney
- A broken terra cotta tile that has collapsed inside the flue
Solution: Before lighting your fire, do a small draft test by lighting up a sheet of newspaper (not coloured or waxy paper) in order to confirm that the smoke goes up the chimney and the flue is therefore clear. If the smoke backs up into your room, it’s possible that there’s some debris in the flue.
- A strong downdraft is pushing the smoke back down the chimney and into your house.
Solution: Schedule an inspection by a WETT certified technician to evaluate the installation of your wood burning system and determine the reasons why your wood burning system is not venting properly (i.e. too many offsets/bends in flue, negative pressure in the house, the chimney is too short , etc.)
- Wet or un-seasoned firewood will give off a lot of smoke as the fire attempts to burn off the moisture. If your pieces of wood don’t show cracks in their ends, the wood is not dry.
Solution: Whether you cut and split your own wood supply or purchase it from a reputable source, make sure you give it time to dry before attempting to use it. Wood that is stacked outside, off the ground, in the drying summer sun, will get air flow all around it and therefore lose much of its moisture.
- Deteriorating Components in your fireplace or wood stove will prevent it from functioning the way the manufacturer had intended. The various components each have a role to play. Keeping them in good working order will also extend the life of your wood burning system.
Solution: Schedule an inspection by a WETT certified technician to determine the condition of your fireplace or wood stove. Sometimes just a sweeping of the system is sufficient to restore the system in good working order. In some cases, a deteriorated component can be replaced with a new one and if this is not possible, your WETT certified technician will discuss options that are available for your particular situation.
- The design of the fireplace may be preventing the smoke and fumes from venting properly.
Solution: An experienced WETT certified technician will be able to discuss with you options that are available for your particular system. Since no two wood burning systems are the same, a site visit and perhaps sweeping of your system will be required. In servicing your wood burning system, the technician will gather the information necessary to determine the best possible options for you and your lifestyle.
Most Important … Open the damper before lighting your fire.
After it has cooled down and all the ashes and embers are cold (the next day or later), then and only then do you close that damper again to prevent the loss of your home’s heat from going up the chimney.
When was the last time you had the chimney for your fireplace or woodstove swept? If you can’t remember how long it’s been, it may be time to have your wood burning system serviced before you light up a fire.