Smoke backflowing into home from fireplace

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dborns

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We've been in our home for the past four years and haven't been able to use the fireplace. The few initial times I did, smoke would back flow into the house and continue to build until it was banked down from the ceiling. I've had a chimney sweep here three times and he couldn't find anything. He's run a camera down both stacks(?), and didn't see anything. He mentioned it looks like it's hardly ever been used so it's clean, and there are no nests in it. When we have used it, you can just barely see a little smoke seeping from the edges of the front glass of the box while the fire is going, telling me that it is coming back down the flue. Yes, the flue has always been open.
This is the fireplace in the upstairs living room, and it's a double-sided unit with it's own stack. That's the one we've tried and have had the issue. Downstairs, directly underneath it, is a second box that has it's own stack that we've never used. One attempt the sweep tried was to cover the spark arrester(?) on the chimney with steel plate on the side next to the downstairs arrester. He was thinking maybe the smoke exiting the one, was being pulled down the basement one causing the smoke and smell to re-enter the house. When it happens, the smell and smoke are almost all concentrated upstairs.
We really want to use the upstairs fireplace, but the smoke and the smell make it a no-go. Any suggestions where I could start?

Thank you.
 
I had one of those metal box fireplaces, and the vent hole barely drew any air. I had to light some newspaper on fire up in the flue area to create the initial draw of air, then it would work perfectly.
 
How about a photo?
Sorry, I should have attached these. The first is the living room. The second is the opposite side in the bedroom. I really noticed soot stain on the upper white tiles, and one suggestion was to install a piece of steel sheet to cover that side so it couldn't draft back down and seep out of the upper corners. Didn't work.
The third and fourth are the basement box which again, has it's own flue.
LR F.JPGBR.JPGBM1.JPGBM2.JPG
 
I had of those metal box fireplaces, and the vent hole barely drew any air. I had to light some newspaper on fire up in the flue area to create the initial draw of air, then it would work perfectly.
I was wondering if it was a draft issue, but I've tried to get the flue heated up each time and that didn't change things. I know the house isn't really "tight", but would drafts from doors and windows cause this or be the opposite?
 
Thanks, I was concerned as well, re drafting.

Similar too, and in the relative geo area as havasu, from when the flews changed from clay to metal, a customer resigned themselves to using a paint stripper heat gun, for about 30-45 sec. to displace the cold air in the stack.

If you view it as though it were a weather pattern, IE warm air below a cold front, the heat doesn't rise.
 
I had the same issue at my previous and current house and found pre-heating the flue was a must and the better it's pre-heated, the better the draft is and the less smoke into the room. A lit newspaper didn't do it, I use a blowtorch and some lit kindling for a couple of minutes.
 
Any chance for pictures from the outside looking at the chimney? Which direction do the prevailing winds blow ? How far is the chimney from the ridge? Are you in a valley, wide open?
 
Any chance for pictures from the outside looking at the chimney? Which direction do the prevailing winds blow ? How far is the chimney from the ridge? Are you in a valley, wide open?
Yes, and sorry I'm not sure what pics are needed for the help I'm asking for.
We're pretty highup and in the open so we get quite a bit of wind especially from the north. The chimney is somewhat protected from south winds due to the roof. It's also right at the ridge of the peak. The flue in the front with the white label in the pic is the closest one you see; the basement flue is the one that appears to have foil wrapped on the arrestor. That was kind of a last ditch attempt to see if it would block smoke from going down that one. Again, when the smoke built-up, it was only upstairs, and not down, and I know smoke rises, but it wasn't like it was coming out of the basement fire box.
 

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Last edited:
Hearth.com is a website that addresses all aspects of wood burning for heat and aesthetics . Post your questions there and your questions will be answered by professionals and a great readership that has solved many home owners problems. Great , friendly bunch of people.
 
it is very important to open a window or two when using a fireplace. most houses have all matter of exhaust devices (dryers ,bathroom exhaust, kitchen hoods ect )but nothing coming in so the house has a negative pressure .
 
I was thinking that I would try the basement FP to see if that works and make sure I heat it up real well before I start it. I
Hearth.com is a website that addresses all aspects of wood burning for heat and aesthetics . Post your questions there and your questions will be answered by professionals and a great readership that has solved many home owners problems. Great , friendly bunch of people.
I'll check that out now. Thank you!
 
We've been in our home for the past four years and haven't been able to use the fireplace. The few initial times I did, smoke would back flow into the house and continue to build until it was banked down from the ceiling. I've had a chimney sweep here three times and he couldn't find anything. He's run a camera down both stacks(?), and didn't see anything. He mentioned it looks like it's hardly ever been used so it's clean, and there are no nests in it. When we have used it, you can just barely see a little smoke seeping from the edges of the front glass of the box while the fire is going, telling me that it is coming back down the flue. Yes, the flue has always been open.
This is the fireplace in the upstairs living room, and it's a double-sided unit with it's own stack. That's the one we've tried and have had the issue. Downstairs, directly underneath it, is a second box that has it's own stack that we've never used. One attempt the sweep tried was to cover the spark arrester(?) on the chimney with steel plate on the side next to the downstairs arrester home improvement monroe wa. He was thinking maybe the smoke exiting the one, was being pulled down the basement one causing the smoke and smell to re-enter the house. When it happens, the smell and smoke are almost all concentrated upstairs.
We really want to use the upstairs fireplace, but the smoke and the smell make it a no-go. Any suggestions where I could start?

Thank you.
My wife and I recently bought a home and one of the features that we really liked was the old fireplace. We could hardly wait to build a fire and enjoy cuddling up in front of it. However, after an hour or so of enjoying the flickering flames smoke started coming into the house out of the fireplace, this was the beginning of my quest. I have tried many different things to prevent the smoke but so far nothing has worked. So we have not had a fire for a long time and we are sad.
I have tried using very dry wood.
I tried using an opening reducer.
I cleaned the chimney.
I had it inspected.
I messed with the chimney cap.
Yes, the damper is open.(my wife asks that everytime, drives me nuts)

I have done some research and it could be a number things.
1. recently remodeled home and better insulated resulting in not enough fresh air.
2. room was enlarged creating too much fresh air.
3. house is in a narrow valley which could create a curling wind problem.
4. chimney too short.

There is a product called an "exhausto fan" which may solve my problem but I'm not sure I need it just yet.( it's over $1200.00) I know someone out there has the answer.
 
I had a wood burning fireplace for 30+ years in my previous house. Loved it. I didn't mind splitting firewood (but I was younger then). In my new house I have a gas insert and I have to admit, it's nice to flip a switch and poof! looks good too.
 
I had a wood burning fireplace for 30+ years in my previous house. Loved it. I didn't mind splitting firewood (but I was younger then). In my new house I have a gas insert and I have to admit, it's nice to flip a switch and poof! looks good too.
It must be an aging thing. I used to love a real fire. Gathering and splitting wood and a crackling fire sucking all the heat out of the house on a winter day. In this house I bought a fake fireplace that the guy selling it kept the gas insert. It was beautiful woodwork and I got it so cheap I figured I would buy the gas setup and have it as backup heating source. It sat empty for a couple years in the living room as I got older and I looked on Amazon and found a unit that perfectly fit the opening that had electric fake logs and fake fire and it also has a good size electric heater built in. Now I have a remote control and the glow of the fire. It even has a crackling sound but it gets annoying. Not to me as my ears are also shot but she says it drives her nuts when we watch TV. For fun I turn the fireplace on and then turn the roku fireplace on the TV on. People driving by at night think the house is on fire.
 

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