a christmas mug, ornament, and lantern in front of a lit fireplaceThe holiday season brings bustling shopping centers, family gatherings, and twinkling Christmas lights, but… it also brings the shortest and often the coldest days of the year.

Fortunately for fireplace owners, cozy fires can add warmth and light to even the colder, darkest evenings. In fact, a crackling fire in the fireplace is often one of the most comforting and enjoyable parts of the holidays. That is, when everything is working properly. But if the smoke from the fireplace begins drifting in – and not out? Well, then the fireplace experience goes from cozy and enjoyable to a hazardous headache pretty quickly.

If smoke continuously enters your space, we’ve got a list of problems you can check for, along with some effective solutions. And if some professional care is in order, our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified techs are ready and willing to help whenever you need it.

Common Reasons for Smoke Backup

Why might your fireplace be smoking? Well, there are lots of potential causes…

a wood burning fire in a fireplace with smoke pouring out🔥 Closed Damper

Have you ever been looking for your lost keys only to find out that they have been in your hand the entire time? This problem is sort of like that. It’s so obvious that many don’t even think to check it. The damper in your chimney is there to keep cold air out and warm air in when you aren’t using your fireplace. However, if it isn’t open before lighting a fire, the smoke will have nowhere to go but right back into your living room. 

The Solution? Open the damper.

The first thing to do is also the easiest thing to do – simply make sure your chimney damper is fully open. If you have a traditional throat damper then there will be a knob near your fireplace or a handle inside it. If the handle is hanging low or if the knob is turned all the way counter clockwise it means the damper is closed. Re-adjust the handle up or turn the knob clockwise to open the damper and get that draft flowing.

Some chimneys have a top-mounted damper. If that is the case, then there will be a cable or chain hanging down in your fireplace’s firebox interior. When closed the cable or chain will be tight and connected to a hook or a clasp. When you undo the cable/chain it will loosen and rise up a bit, meaning your damper has opened up.

🔥 Insufficient Air Supply

Newer homes are often so airtight that there isn’t enough makeup air coming to compensate for the air flowing up and out of the flue. Fire will look to pull oxygen wherever it can (like down through the chimney) and this can often force smoke into the home.

The Solution? Open a window.

Opening a window one inch or so will allow air to circulate into your home and will increase airflow into your fireplace. This will allow the chimney to take the smoke out, rather than forcing it back in. You can also incorporate makeup air solutions or new venting systems.

🔥 Fireplace Opening Is Too Large

If your fireplace opening is too large, more air might be allowed in than the fireplace can handle. Essentially, your flue can’t handle the amount of smoke being poured into it. The draft that is created would then push smoke into your home, rather than out.

The Solution? Create a smaller opening.

Mid-Valley Chimney Repair and Sweeps can install something that will decrease the opening of your fireplace without compromising its appearance. Alternatively, installing glass doors to your fireplace might help you regulate the opening, as well.

🔥 Chimney Flue Blockages

Sometimes critters like birds or squirrels will find shelter in your chimney and will try to take residence there. Debris from nests or other sources can clog up the flue and give your smoke no other way to go but right back into your space.

The Solution? Clear the chimney flue.

It is necessary to make sure your chimney is clear of debris, but it can be a difficult, not to mention dangerous, task to tackle on your own – especially if wild animals are present. This is where your dedicated techs at Mid-Valley Chimney Repair and Sweeps come in. Book a sweeping with us to ensure your flue is clear and ready for successful burns all season long.

We Want to Help You

Smoke in places it shouldn’t be is always a concern – and that’s especially true if it’s in your home. Not only is it frustrating, but it can feel seemingly impossible to pinpoint why your chimney isn’t doing the job it’s supposed to be doing. If you need help, we want to help. Mid-Valley Chimney Repair and Sweeps is equipped with years of experience and a vast knowledge of chimneys, fireplaces, airflow, and safety.

Our technicians can make sure that your chimney is providing you with the light and warmth you deserve in the months ahead. Schedule a visit with us – reach out at 513-727-0994 or schedule online today.