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10 Ways to Help Keep Smoke from Coming Out Of Your Fireplace

1. Use A Fireplace Grate

A fireplace grate helps lift the fire further off the fireplace floor. Not only does using a grate help with airflow, but it also allows the fire to be located higher up in the fireplace towards the chimney. When a fire is lifted into a fireplace, it gives smoke less chance of coming out of it and into the room.

A grate can help to lift a fire higher up into a fireplace. As our open fireplace is quite large, we always use a fireplace grate when having fires. It helps to ensure that any smoke being produced makes its way up our chimney instead of coming out into our living room.

If you use a fireplace grate and still have trouble with smoke coming out of your fireplace, then look at buying a specially designed fireplace grate that helps to keep the fire against the back wall of the fireplace.

Several grates grades available are heavy-duty and hold a complete fire against the back of the fireplace. They’re shaped in a way that allows you to easily add more logs onto the fire. Still, the hit helps ensure that if any smoke is created, it has a much higher chance of leaving your chimney than coming out of your fireplace.

A heavy-duty fireplace grate will help to keep all fires located at the back of the fireplace and help to reduce the potential for smoke to come out of your fireplace. To help keep smoke from coming out of an open fireplace, look to use a grate when fires, or buy a grate that helps keep the fire against the back wall of the firebox.

2. Build Fires Towards The Back Of The Fireplace

Another way to help prevent smoke from coming out of a fireplace is to build fires as far back into the fireplace as possible. Even if you don’t have a grate for your fireplace, building your fires more towards the back of the fireplace helps minimize the potential for smoke coming into the room rather than leaving up the chimney. Building your fires as far back into the fireplace as possible can help prevent smoke from coming out of the fireplace

3. Build Fires Using The Top-Down Method

The top-down method of building a fire in a fireplace involves building a fire with the logs placed first in a fireplace. Kindling and a fire starter are added on top of the logs.The main benefit of using the top-down method to build fires when trying to stop smoke from coming out of fireplaces is that the fire is started at the top.

In a traditionally built fire (with the fire starter at the bottom and the logs on top), the fire is started at the base of the fireplace. The fire is started at the base can cause problems because the fire is being smothered by the wood on top, potentially leading to more smoke being created due to lack of oxygen and incomplete combustion of the wood.

When a fire is built using the top-down method, the fire is started at the top. Any smoke initially generated by the fire is located further towards the top of the fireplace, reducing the potential for smoke to come out of the fireplace.

With no logs on top in a top-down fire, the fire can provide a much cleaner and more efficient burn right from starting the fire. By building top-down fires in your open fireplace, you can help to reduce the amount of smoke that is produced at the start of the fire, as well as help minimize the amount of smoke that can come out of your fireplace by lighting the fire more toward the top of the fireplace.

4. Burn Dry & Low Moisture Content Firewood

To help keep smoke from coming out of your fireplace, it’s essential to consider the factors that cause the fire to smoke in the first place. A fire typically produces more smoke when the wood isn’t appropriately combusted. One of the main reasons why wood isn’t being burnt properly is because the wood is too wet.

A fire will struggle to burn wood that isn’t dry enough because extra energy is required to burn off the excess moisture content before the wood can be appropriately combusted.

To help reduce the amount of smoke your fireplace produces, look to only burn wood that is less than 20% moisture content. As the moisture content increases by over 20%, the wood becomes progressively harder to burn effectively.

You can tell whether wood may be dry enough to burn by some of its features, including being more lightweight than ‘greenwood, having a brown colour without a greenish tint, and having split or course ends. The bark on dry wood can also come off more quickly than on wet wood.

To be sure that you’re burning wood that is less than the recommended moisture content of 20%, you’ll need to use a moisture meter.

A moisture meter will accurately read any wood piece’s moisture content. It will help to ensure that you’re not burning wood that is too wet that it will cause a fire to produce more smoke.

Use our moisture meter to ensure the wood is dry enough to burn. A moisture meter is essential for any wood-burning fireplace.

5. Open The Damper Fully Before Each Fire

A fire may not be able to appropriately combust wood and can produce more smoke if there is also a lack of sufficient airflow to the fire.

To help ensure that the draft is working as efficiently as possible so that air can be continuously fed to the fire, fully open the damper in your fireplace before each fire.

If your fireplace has a damper, it will typically be located within the top area of your fireplace. Dampers can be closed between fires to help prevent heat loss from home but must be opened before each fire to ensure that all waste gases and smoke can be safely vented from home.

Simply use the handle on the damper to open it as far as possible.

6. Preheat The Chimney To Start The Draft

To further help reduce the potential for smoke to be produced as much as possible, warming up the air within the chimney before starting a fire can help to start the draft on your fireplace.

A strong draft is essential for maintaining the continuous cycle of waste gases and smoke being removed from your home while also sucking fresh air into a fire from the room. Cold air trapped within a chimney can mean no air movement and, therefore, no draft. To help start the draft, we always warm up our chimney before each fire.

We take a single sheet of newspaper, roll it up and light it at one end. We then place the newspaper under the chimney on top of our fireplace and leave it to burn for a short while.

To ensure that a fire doesn’t start to smoke due to a lack of oxygen, warming the chimney can be done in conjunction with building top-down fires to help start the draft as soon as possible.

7. Build Smaller, Hotter Fires

A smaller but hotter burning fire can provide a much cleaner burn with less smoke than a more significant struggling fire. Building a large fire in your open fireplace can overwhelm the fire as it tries to burn through the initial bits of wood. Building a more minor fire can help the fire to spread to the logs more quickly.

A hotter burning fire can provide a cleaner burn, so getting temperatures up within the fireplace as quickly as possible can help reduce the amount of smoke produced throughout the fire. Although our open fireplace is reasonably big, we build relatively small fires compared to its size. You don’t have to build big fires as they can struggle to get going and produce more smoke. A more minor fire can get going more quickly. Even though the fire is small at the beginning, we can always add more logs to make the fire bigger once higher temperatures have been reached. As the fire progresses, the higher temperatures make it easier for logs to catch alight without producing smoke.

8. Have Your Chimney Swept

Chimneys should be cleaned at least once per year. If you haven’t had your chimney swept within the last year, it’s a good idea to get it done. A dirty or blocked chimney can cause a fire to produce more smoke than usual due to a reduction in the draw on the fireplace.

9. Open Any External Air Vents

Poor oxygen supply to your fireplace can be one of the main reasons a fire can smoke. Air supply to a fireplace can be more problematic in newer homes built to higher standards and more airtight.

By opening any external air vents or windows within the same room as a fireplace, you’re helping to supply as much air as possible and reduce the fire’s potential to start struggling and producing smoke due to a lack of oxygen. We have an external air vent in our living that we open before each fire to help maximize the air supply to the fires. If you don’t have an external air vent, then opening a window slightly in the same room as the fireplace will work just as well.

10. Don’t Start Fires in Too Warm or Windy Weather

A poor draft can affect how well a fire performs in an open fireplace, and a lack of air movement up the chimney can lead to a struggling or smouldering fire that produces more smoke. To help prevent your fires from smoking, try not to start fires during very windy weather or when temperatures outside your home are higher than inside. Windy weather can cause a backdraft, where the air is forced back down your chimney and can affect how well the usual draft works. For the draft to be started and for air movement up the chimney, the temperature of the air within the chimney needs to be higher than that of the outside air temperature. The temperature difference between the inside and outside of your home helps warmer to air to rise up your chimney and, in turn, sucks more air into the fireplace to replace it. Typically, the more significant the temperature difference, the greater the draft. When temperatures outside your home are too high, it can be hard to start the draft, meaning that a fire can struggle and smoke due to a lack of continuous and sufficient airflow through the fireplace


AH Fireplace Installations


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