Published on January 13th, 2013 | by Henri


Smoky fireplace

Q.   My home, which I purchased 50 years ago, has a fireplace that we seldom use because too much smoke enters our living room when we fire it up. Contractors have told me that the draft is too strong, not strong enough, or that the fireplace opening is too high (30 inches) and that it should be lowered so it would trap the smoke. The fireplace has a damper which is supposed to control the draft. I keep it shut and don’t use the fireplace.

Someone also told me to use only seasoned oak as other logs give off too much smoke. I have done so but the results have been the same. Perhaps you may have suggestions.

A.   If the draft were too strong you would not have smoke in the livingroom. If the fireplace opening height is greater than 10 times the cross-section of the flue there is the potential for smoking. Other possibilities are the height of the chimney (the higher it is, the better the draft), obstructions from tall trees too close to the chimney and lack of make-up air from too tight a house – probably not the case in a house that’s over 50 years old, unless much has been done to tighten it up.

Finally, oak creates denser smoke than many other tree species.

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