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How to Avoid a Smoky Fireplace.

Smoky Fireplace - One of the best things about having a fireplace is curling up in the winter to enjoy the warmth and comforting crackling sounds. However, that ambiance can be quickly destroyed if you find your home filled with smoke. Not only does this pose health risks, but it may indicate problems with your fireplace or chimney. Read on to learn what the inspection experts at Albany Chimney recommend.

How-to-Avoid-a-Smoky-Fireplace

What Causes a Smoky Fireplace?

The visible part of a fireplace is only a small part of the overall design of a properly functioning setup. The chimney is actually what makes burning a fire in a fireplace or woodstove safe and operational.


Within a chimney is the flue, which directs smoke up and out of the chimney. If any part of the chimney is blocked or damaged, there’s the unpleasant result of smoke pouring into the house. The smoke from burning wood produces contaminants like ash nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide which have been linked to cancer, respiratory complications, and other health issues. There are a few primary reasons that typically cause a smoky fireplace.


#1 Damper Malfunction

The damper is essentially a door that’s installed near the opening of the fireplace. This door must be opened prior to lighting a fire, otherwise, the smoke won’t flow up and out of the chimney. Sometimes a damper malfunction is simply a user error – basically you forgot to open it. In addition to opening the damper, it’s important that there’s not an abundance of negative air pressure in your home. Negative air pressure is most common in multi-story houses or those that are tightly insulated, thus preventing ideal air flow.


#2 Chimney Blockage

In order for a chimney to do its job, the air flow must be uninterrupted. Oftentimes, the chimney or cap screen becomes blocked from creosote (oily, sooty buildup) or because small animals build their homes in the space during the warmer months. While the chimney cap screen will help prevent birds, mice, squirrels, bats, or raccoons from hunkering down inside the chimney, the screen itself can also become clogged. These pests may decide the screen makes a nice perch or maybe debris from storms and outdoor elements clog it up. An annual chimney inspection can prevent these issues and alert you to any other underlying problems.