A fireplace can add warmth and coziness to a home…unless it does not operate properly. One common problem experienced by many homeowners is a smoking chimney. There are a number of reasons a chimney may smoke, ranging from those that have simple fixes to those that require complex repairs. In most cases, a professional should be called to address the issue.

Soot after a fire

A simple reason a chimney may smoke is because it is dirty. Soot can build up in the chimney as cholesterol builds up in our arteries. The greater the buildup, the more difficult it is for the chimney to function properly. Smoke must work harder to exit the chimney and much of it backs up into the fireplace. Soot buildup is usually difficult to see, so homeowners may not realize it is there.

If the chimney has a cap, this component may become plugged with soot. With no way to exit the home, the smoke flows back into the house. A buildup of white ash under the fire grate prevents oxygen from getting under the fire to help it breathe. Red-hot coals cannot radiate heat, so the fire will begin to smoke.

Fireplaces with sunken fireboxes should have fire grates positioned above the hearth floor so air can easily travel under the grates. When the fireplace is used for the first time each season, the flue must be primed by using a lot of newspaper and wood kindling. This heats up the flue before any logs are put into the fireplace.

Scheduling an annual appointment with a chimney sweep is recommended because this will identify issues that are more serious. If the chimney is uncapped, debris or animals can enter and block the entrance to the flue. A chimney cap is inexpensive and takes only a few minutes for a professional to install. Smoke can escape without unwanted items getting in.