Fireplace Creates Too Much Smoke: 5 Things to Solve Your Problem

Tired of coughing and placing your hands over your mouth so you can breathe. You shouldn’t have to feel like a prisoner trapped in a blazing fire. This article will explain why you’re experiencing excessive smoke from your wood burning fireplace and list some helpful tips that will help you solve the problem. Later, we’ll show you how you can eliminate the smoky fire syndrome completely with some new alternatives you’ve never thought about.

8 Most Common Causes of Smoky Fireplaces

Check the Damper – Sometimes the damper is not open all the way and will not allow your wood fireplace stove to vent properly. The damper is a metal plate that is located inside your chimney and usually has a handle near the bottom that you can lift up and down to open and close your damper. It’s not uncommon for people to close the damper in the summer when it’s not in use and also during the winter to keep warm air from escaping the house. Check our damper first if your fireplace is creating excessive smoke inside the home.

Ventilation – In order for air to flow out of your chimney, air must be able to flow through your house. Sometimes cracking a window open a tiny bit will allow a draft that will create a draft through your home, leading the smoke up and out of the chimney instead of polluting the air inside of your home. Conversely, if you open your windows too much, it will lead the smoke to escape through these windows instead of the chimney vent.

Orientation of the Firebox – Sometimes the grate of your fireplace can be placed too close to the face of the firebox. When this happens, heat naturally rises into your room instead up into the chimney. Depending on the severity of problem, try building the fire closer to the back wall of the firebox. You can also try buying a grate that is taller, maybe 5 inches to usher the smoke up and out through the chimney. Smoke guards and deflectors are another option.

Problems with the Construction – When the flue is too large, air will not flow properly and you can get downdrafts sometimes. If there are too many angels in the chimney, this could also cause a problem. The flue needs to be proportionate to the size of the firebox in order for venting to work properly. You will need to contact an experienced contractor/mason to ensure that your chimney was constructed properly. If you don’t want to pay to rebuild your entire fireplace you can check out some of the alternative solutions we’ve provided below.

Creosote Buildup – Creosote is a byproduct of natural wood that is burnt at a low temperature. When the creosote solidifies, it collects inside the walls of your chimney. Creosote can start a fire and DATA. When conditions become severe, creosote can clog your chimney making it difficult for air to escape through the roof. Your chimney should be cleaned every year regardless of whether you use it or not.

Downdrafts – Downdrafts are caused by a flow of air than enter the chimney from the top and causes air (smoke) to flow into your house. This can be a bit more of a challenge to address because downdrafts can be caused by anything from the height of your chimney being too short or a nearby hill that is creating a strong draft around your home. In these cases, you may have to consider hiring a contractor to extend your chimney.

Problems with Air Pressure – Everybody knows that hot air rises but this statement is relative to the temperature of the surrounding air. If the temperature inside your home is too high, the smoke may fall instead. As a general rule, excessive smoke will occur when the outside air temperature is lower or equal to the air inside of your home. Refer to the solutions below.

Wood type – Not all wood is meant to be burned indoors. Chemically treated wood burns slower and creates more smoke than natural wood logs. Moisture can also create indoor pollution when the wood hasn’t been properly dried. Maybe it’s been sitting outside and has collected moisture from the morning dew. Bottom line, you should only burn wood that has chemical-free and properly dried.

The Dangers of Smoke Inhalation

Inhaling smoke is dangerous and cause serious health problems, especially for those suffering from respiratory illnesses like COPD and chronic asthma. California’s Healthy Hearths Program even prohibits the use of wood-burning devices in newly built homes, encouraging homeowners to convert to non-polluting heating sources. See Below.

“When possible, the American Lung Association strongly recommends using cleaner, less toxic sources of heat.”

-American Lung Association

Alternative Solutions You’ve Never Thought About

Electric Fireplaces

Have you ever thought of using an electric fireplace? If not, you really should consider it. Electric fireplace give you the ambiance of a visual flame without all of the harsh smoke. What’s more, electric fireplaces are 100% Energy Efficient meaning that every penny you spend creating heat stays inside your home. Studies have shown that BLANK percentage of air escapes through the chimney of a traditional wood burning stove. You’re literally watching money fly through the rough.

Holly & Martin Weatherford Convertible Electric Fireplace

Holly & Martin Weatherford Convertible Electric Fireplace produces zero emissions or pollutants. $679.99

Electric fireplaces are ventless meaning they require no special modifications. You can purchase inserts that slide directly into your existing firebox or a Free standing fireplace that you can place anywhere you’d like. What about the electric wires? Simply plug and play! Electric fireplaces can be plugged into any standard 120V electrical outlet in your home. They can also be purchased as hardwired 220V units for those that want a fully customized look.

Don’t have money for an upgrade? Not to worry, the savings of having an electric fireplace will pay for itself within 12 months! Learn how much an electric fireplace can save you. You can even grab one of these for under $500!

See what electric fireplaces look like

Gel Fireplaces

Gel fireplaces, otherwise referred to as bio-ethanol fireplaces, provide a real burning flame minus all of the coughs and trouble breathing. Bio-ethanol is safe to use inside the home and can be an effective solution to problems with too much smoke inside the house.

[READ: Why You Need to Replace Your Old Fireplace with a New Gel Fireplace]

Bio-Ethanol fireplaces are the number solution for homeowners who just have to have the warmth of a real fire inside their home. There are many different styles and sizes. Check out some of the latest bio-ethanol fireplaces. You never know, you might see something you never knew you liked!

Holly and Martin Weatherford Convertible Gel Fireplace

44.5″ Holly & Martin Weatherford Convertible Gel Fireplace emits no smoke, odor, or ash. $549.99

Additional Resources:

  1. 3 Steps to Converting from Wood to Electric Inserts
  2. A Guide to Convert a Gas Fireplace to an Electric Insert
  3. The 10 Most Asked Questions About Electric Fireplaces
  4. The 5 Most Realistic Electric Fireplaces in 2014

About the Author
is an interior design consultant focusing on crisp modern interiors with a tinge of retro styling. She offers design and consulting services for residential and commercial spaces. Follow her for fool proof design tips for everyday homeowners.