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h 20 February 2018

Isokern FAQ: Discovering Why Your Fireplace Smokes

Everyone likes to enjoy a nice relaxing evening by the fire. This experience is sometimes put to the test with a fireplace that spills smoke out into the room. There are a few steps you can take as the homeowner to help figure out which factor is affecting your fireplace.

  1. Closed or Partially Open Dampers. We have all done this a time or two, but forgetting to completely open the damper is a common cause of smoking. Make sure to open the damper completely and that there are no visual obstructions.
  2. Your house is well insulated. In the new build homes that are relatively air tight, they may not be able to supply enough outside air to the fire resulting in a negative pressure in the home. Well insulated homes can benefit from an outside air supply vent installed in the fireplace to help satisfy the fire’s needs.
  3. Try opening a window in the fireplace room while burning. If the fireplace starts to draw better, this is likely the problem.
  4. Running exhaust fans while burning a fire. If there is a running kitchen or bathroom exhaust fan this could be the cause of your fireplace smoke. Another culprit may be the blower fan of a forced hot air heating system especially if the furnace return vent is in the same room as the fireplace. These types of fans can very easily create a powerful negative pressure hindering the fireplace from drafting correctly. If you make sure that all of these types of fans are off while the fireplace is burning, the smoke problem may go away.
  5. It’s too warm outside. For example, in Florida or mild climates people know all too well that even fireplaces that draft great when its cold outside can be known to puff out fireplace smoke when it’s slightly warmer out. The greater the temperature differential from the inside room temperature and the outdoor temperature, the better the fireplace will draft. Take notice of the outside temperature when burning the fireplace. Having a fire when it’s colder out may help.
  6. Wet firewood. It is not uncommon for the smoking problem to be wet firewood. A fire that appears to smolder or make hissing sounds wile burning may have a high water content. Such a fire simply can’t generate sufficient heat to allow the chimney to draw well. If you hit two smaller pieces of dry firewood together, you should hear a crisp, sharp sound. If you hear a dull “thud” the wood is most likely wet. Try building a fire with wood that you are positive is dry that has been under cover.
  7. Unattended Chimney. As you burn fires over the seasons creosote builds up inside the chimney and can restrict the flow of gases. This build-up of creosote not only can lead to smoking but can also lead to a chimney fire.  An annual inspection and chimney sweep is recommended to keep your fireplace in tip top shape.

These are just some of the steps you can take to figure out your smoking fireplace. With all the new construction and tightly built homes we strive to educate the construction industry to supply enough make-up air to properly draft a fireplace. This is a common issue in recent years is the responsibility of the builder/contractor to ensure that adequate air supply has been provided for the fireplace. As the manufacturer we are not responsible for any smoking related problems that may result from the lack of adequate air supply flowing into the house.

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