Is There Smoke Pouring Out of Your Fireplace? Our Experts Can Figure Out the Issue

You may find yourself dreaming of a warm, welcoming fire to rest by at the end of a long day. But if you get the fire going only to have smoke billow into your living space, that relaxing fireside experience you envisioned will be anything but relaxing. Luckily for folks in Charlottesville and the surrounding areas, The Chimneys Guys are here to stop fireplace backdraft and smoke problems for good.

Things to Try First

Many homeowners call on a professional and are frustrated to learn that there was a simple fix for their smoky fireplace – something they could have taken care of themselves. So before you give us a call, you may want to try these things first:

#1 Check your damper.

First things first, have you checked your damper? Even the most experienced fireplace users have forgotten to open their damper from time to time, and it’s probably the easiest fix for a smoky living room. Even a partially shut damper can result in smoke backup, so be sure you’re opening it all the way.

#2 Check your wood.

Another thing that can help minimize smoke backup is using the right fuel. Many underestimate just how important it is to use only seasoned wood when building fires. The fresher the wood is, the more water content it will have. And burning through all that moisture results in a lot of smoke. Not to mention, you’ll have acidic water deposits entering your chimney that will cling to creosote and cause buildup – not good.

That also means no burning garbage, cardboard, plastic plates/silverware, or really anything that isn’t seasoned wood. Just stick with logs that have been adequately dried for at least six months, and you should be good to go.

#3 Warm your flue.

Finally, it’s a good idea to try warming up your flue before lighting a fire. On those especially cold days, your chimney fills up with cold air, which then acts as a sort of plug for your flue. When you light the fire, the cold air pushes back on the warm air, which then has nowhere to go except back into your home – bringing smoke with it.

Solve this by rolling a piece of newspaper really tightly, lighting the top, and holding it in your flue for a bit. Before long, the airflow will reverse, and you’ll be able to safely light a fire without having smoke pour back into your face.

Nothing Working? Time to Call the Pros

If you’ve tried everything above and you’re still having smoke and draft issues, then it’s time to call us in. There are multiple reasons why a chimney may experience draft and airflow problems, and we’ll never know for sure what’s going on until we take a look at the system.

That said, here are some of the more common scenarios we come across:

  • Clogs/Buildup in the Flue: If the creosote in the flue has built up enough, then your chimney will have lots of trouble drafting correctly. Creosote, along with nesting materials, leaves, twigs, and other outside materials, can block things up in a hurry and prevent smoke from exiting through your chimney top.
  • House Pressure Issues: If you have a newer home, there’s a good chance it’s very well-insulated. While this is good in some ways, it can mess up the pressurization in your chimney and cause smoke backup. An easy fix is to open a door or window, but if you’re looking for a longer-term fix, we may need to discuss alternative solutions.
  • Missing/Poorly-Fitted Chimney Cap: Chimney caps are known for preventing downdrafts (among other things), so if yours is missing or not sized appropriately, that could be the cause of your smoke issues. But not to worry, because we sell and install chimney caps that address downdraft issues.
  • Liner Damage: Cracks and gaps in your chimney liner will definitely mess with draft and airflow, and can result in a smoky fireplace. Just one of the many reasons to get repairs completed as soon as possible.
  • Poor Design: One of the worst-case scenarios we come across is an incorrectly sized flue. Your flue could be too tall, too short, or too small to achieve proper draft, in which case some reconstruction work will be needed to solve your problems for good. It could also be that your firebox opening is too big. Regardless of the issue, we have a solution.

No Matter What’s Causing Your Smoky Fireplace, We Have a Solution

It’s easy to feel discouraged and frustrated when you can’t enjoy your fireplace. Many feel unmotivated to even have the problem looked at, for fear that the solution will cost a fortune. But we work hard to offer affordable solutions to all types of chimney and fireplace issues. We want our neighbors in Charlottesville and beyond to be able to enjoy countless fireside experiences, without the smoke and frustration.

So give The Chimney Guys a call. We’re happy to come to your home in Albemarle County or anywhere else nearby and do some troubleshooting. Reach out at 434-481-3796 or request an appointment right here on our website today and start enjoying your fireplace.


We know all about chimney repairs and installations, so we can handle any issues you might have with a leaky chimney.