Smoking Chimneys – Causes, Signs And Solutions

Are you battling with a smoking chimney? Here is all you should know.

Chimneys are ventilation channels designed to guide or expel smoke due to combustion in a fireplace. Sometimes, the smoke generated gets too much.

When this happens, it’s known as a smoking chimney. When too much smoke is generated from a chimney, it creates several problems including health risks.

Sometimes the entire house smells like smoke from a fireplace.

Smoking Chimney Issues

Some people take the easy route by abandoning their chimneys. However, this ought not to be so. Your chimney can still be in use by locating the source of such problems and fixing it.

We will be providing you with all the help you need.

About Smoke From Chimneys

To better understand how to solve a smoking chimney problem, it’s necessary to understand what smoke is.

Smoke is unburned fuel or fuel which hasn’t been completely combusted. If you’re using wood as your source of fuel, the smoke you see is unburned wood particles.

Now, this points to an inefficient combustion technique. You’d have to find better and more efficient techniques to use for better results. There are other causes of chimney smoke too. The type of smoke you observe gives a clue to the type of problem you have.

What color should chimney smoke be? Thin and colorless.

In a situation where a lot of black chimney smoke is observed, it could be due to the combustion of toxic stuff. Light-colored smoke on the other hand is mainly due to an insufficient supply of oxygen to aid in combustion.

Necessary adjustments will have to be made.

Health Implications

It is no secret that sustained inhalation of smoke results in respiratory problems including damage to your lungs. The most vulnerable group of people affected by this condition includes the elderly and the young.

This problem doesn’t need to linger. You can tackle a smoking chimney problem before it worsens and we’ll be showing you how to do that.

Being A Responsible Neighbor

Are you battling with smoke nuisance from neighbors’ chimneys?

Within a neighborhood, other households are impacted when there’s a smoking chimney problem.

You’ll need to be observant by frequently checking if there are possible smoke issues. It’s best to find solutions early on than allowing the problem to worsen.

Finding Solutions To Smokey Chimneys

Whenever you encounter a smoking chimney problem, you must apply the right measures to fix such problems. So, what exactly are the steps to take in solving a smoking chimney?

There are several ways to reduce smoke from a chimney. They include the following;

  • Carefully Choose Your Firewood

Most of the time, fireplaces using wood as combustible fuel are commonly associated with smoking chimneys. This is not to say firewood should be avoided. Rather, the type of firewood you use in your fireplace matters.

Now, how efficient firewood burns is determined by its level of dryness. Such dryness makes a whole lot of difference and adds to its efficiency or otherwise. In a situation where you decide to use wet or green wood, burning efficiency is significantly reduced.

A lot of smoke is generated during combustion. Also, less heat is generated. Dry wood on the other hand is much more efficient and produces less smoke. One of the quickest ways to differentiate between dry and wet wood is the crackling sound dry wood makes when banged together.

Other major differences include the darker color of wet wood unlike the lighter color associated with dry wood. Weight is another factor. Wet wood tends to be heavier than dry firewood.

It isn’t enough to choose dry wood for your burning fuel. You also need to be careful about what such wood products are made of. Some substances used in treating wood are harmful and should be avoided. These can generate substantial chimney smoke which is hazardous.

Formaldehyde treated wood, as well as painted timber, should be avoided as fireplace burning fuels. These generate substantial smoke while also being toxic.

  • Check Your Chimneys

When starting a fire, it’s common for the smoke to be produced when first lit.

However, such smoke isn’t supposed to last for long. The acceptable duration for the smoke to last is about 15 minutes. Anything out of the ordinary will require taking appropriate action.

So, what is the appropriate action to take when you notice your chimney continues to smoke excessively?

Consider opening the airflows and reducing the fuel load in your fireplace. This should bring about enhanced combustion, thus eliminating the smoke problem.

  • Consider Alternative Heating Methods

Using firewood as combustible fuel has been common practice for centuries. However, experience has shown that there are limitations especially regarding burning efficiency among other things.

Thankfully, there are lots of alternatives to try out.

The issues with using wood as fuel are several. Some of the most common include an increase in air pollution, the release of carbon monoxide into the air which is hazardous, as well as creosote deposits on chimney liner which is highly flammable and may lead to chimney fires.

What more? You’re likely to breathe in tiny gas particles of wood smoke. This affects your body in many ways including irritation to the eyes, nose, and lungs.

Wood fuels are largely responsible for a significant portion of smoking chimneys. Given this situation, consider trying out alternative healing methods. These heating methods are not only cleaner but less polluting and cost-effective.

Alternative heating methods include gas heaters, soy & switchgrass logs, and compressed paper bricks among several others.

  • Buying the Right Wood Heater Size

Some of the common problems leading to smoking chimneys have to do with the wrong wood heater size. A good heater should include one that fits your home size. It’s best to seek professional help when choosing a wood heater for your fireplace.

A wood heater that is too large for a household will have to be turned down. What this does is that it affects its basic functioning which in turn results in excessive smoke among other downsides.

  • An Efficient Fire Does the Trick

An efficient fire is started or lit without adding fuel-soaked rags or oils. Air controls are opened and bigger chunks of wood are gradually added. It is important when starting such a fire to avoid overloading.

Overloading your fire with logs leads to unnecessary smoking chimneys. This situation can be prevented. The ideal fire burns brightly with red glowing embers. That way, you help prevent your chimney from smoking.

  • Damper Must be Left Open

It is important to ensure your damper (also known as air controls) is left open.

By so doing, complete combustion results, thus eliminating chances of excessive smoke build-up. However, for this action to be better appreciated and effective, you’ll need to have your home insulated.

  • Insulation

Homes without insulation or those with poor insulation will need to be heated more frequently than usual. Such frequent heating, in turn, increases the likelihood of smoking chimneys. Insulation helps prevent heat escape.

Therefore, all measures to keep the heat in should be taken. This includes ceiling insulation, closed doors (especially those not in use), blocked draughts, and also curtains should be drawn.

That way, heat is retained for a longer period, thus eliminating the need for frequent heating which may lead to smoking chimneys.

  • Maintaining Your Chimney

Chimney maintenance is one of the most effective ways of preventing smoking. Maintenance involves several actions including cleaning and lubrication. For cleaning, it should be targeted at your wood heater and chimney.

The best times to clean are the start and end of winter. Because heat is involved, lubrication must only be done using high-temperature grease. It’s important to also inspect for other possible damages.

Immediate fixes should be made for any problem found.

Prevent Chimney Smoke Problems: Avoid Burning These

More often than not, there’s a temptation to throw certain objects into your chimney to watch them burn. While these items may burn, they could generate a lot of smoke, thus leading to smoking chimneys.

In simple terms, it’s best to avoid burning anything in your fireplace that’s considered as being inappropriate for use as combustible fuel. A lot of items fall under this category.

Some of the most common include treated lumber, cardboard, wrapping paper, wet wood, Christmas trees, and charcoal.

Another thing to avoid includes all forms of plastics. All of these are likely to create or produce a lot of smoke which in turn results in smoking chimneys.

Additionally, inappropriate fuels can lead to damage to both your chimney and fireplace. There’s also the risk of air pollution resulting.

Here is a complete list of things you shouldn’t burn in your fireplace.

Calling For Repairs

As discussed, a smoking chimney isn’t normal and easily affects the smooth functioning of your system. When this happens, it’s best to call for professional assistance.

Now, professional technicians will usually come around and inspect the chimney especially when it’s working.

Observations are made and questions are asked. This process allows the technician to identify the possible causes and proffer far-reaching solutions.

If there’s a problem with your chimney, it is identified during the inspection and fixed. Recommendations usually follow after an inspection or repair.

Smoking chimneys are common issues people deal with. As we’ve discussed, such problems may be due to use habits or as a result of a problem. Whatever the issues are, solutions are always available.

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