how to fix a smoking stove or fireplace
Some smoke leaks or puffs out of your stove or fireplace into your home
instead of being vented exclusively to the great outdoors. What's the cause
and how can you fix it?
Problem: Smoke puffs out of the
stove or fireplace during use
The culprit is usually inadequate venting or a downdraft.
There are two main causes and remedies:
- The external outlet of the chimney or flue doesn't have a clear passage
of air over it. This may be because it's has become blocked by trees
or other tall plants that have grown up around it, or a bird or other
animal has built its nest inside your flue. Solution: remove the obstructing
branches, foliage, or nest. Alternatively, the problem may be that the
chimney simply isn't tall enough, perhaps because a newly-added extension
or garage rises above it. Solution: increase the height of the chimney
- Winds, especially high winds, may blow smoke back down the chimney.
Solution: check the cap on the chimney (if there is one), and if necessary
replace it or add an anti-downdraft cowl. However, make sure that this
doesn't reduce the effective aperture of your chimney. If it does the
solution may be to install a motorized draft inducer (typically $1,000
to $2,000) that fits to the top of the chimney or flue and literraly
sucks the smoke out of it.
Problem: Smoke seeps out of the stove or fireplace especially when
first lit, or when the stove doors are open
There can be a number of reasons for this and you need to work your way
through the various possibilities, starting obviously with the easiest and
cheapest to check.
- If smoke leaks out when starting a fire the problem may be that there
isn't a big enough pressure difference between the inside and outside
of the house to get a draft going right away; it's a problem that tends
to be worse in cold weather. Other things you might try as a remedy
are closing windows and doors (especially the basement door), and turning
off kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans.
- Smoking escaping from the top of a fireplace might point to an undersized
chimney or an oversized fireplace; if the latter, a smoke guard, which
cuts down the opening of the fireplace, might give a quick solution.
- A smoking stove may point to the need for some maintenance work. For
- If your damper won't open fully, have it repaired or replaced
(a fully-functional damper is crucial).
- If your chimney or flue has a build-up of soot or creosote, have
it cleaned or clean it yourself.
- Check there isn't a build-up of soot on the baffle plate inside
- Check the joints in the stove and flue. They may need resealing
with fire cement.