A smoky or smelly fireplace is the last thing you would ask for after a long, tiring day. However, these problems seem inevitable. They crop up even after you put all your efforts to curb them. On the good side, most of these problems are not so serious, so you can fix them on your own with ease.
Smoky Beginning: This can be either caused due to closed fireplace damper or due to cold flue. In case of fireplace damper, you will have to ensure that you open it properly so that the smoke is let out. (You also have to ensure that the damper is closed when the fire is out, or else it will lead to excessive loss of heat from the room.)
The flue, i.e., the conduit to carry off smoke, will be cold when you light the fire after a long break. As a result of this, the fire will not burn properly and you are likely to end up with a smoky fireplace.
The column of cold air in the flue has to be countered with a column of warm air. This can be either done by burning a newspaper near the damper, or by keeping the damper open to facilitate reverse flow of air.
Smoky Ending: This is most often witnessed during windy or rainy nights, wherein the cold atmosphere takes heat energy from the chimney structure and cools the flue rapidly, even while the fire is burning. The air will sink in the flue as it gets cold, and along with air, even smoke will sink and enter the house.
The easiest method to tackle this is to install a glass door at the fireplace, which can be closed to stop the smoke from entering the house when the fire burns low.
Besides this, the problem can also be attributed to structural faults in the fireplace or chimney. It may include building chimney on the outer side of the house, building over-sized flue, or building inappropriately tall chimney. In order to tackle problems caused by structural faults in the chimney, you will have to resort to professional help.
Constantly Smoking: If the fireplace is smoking constantly, it may be due to partial or complete blockage of the flue, smoke chamber being too small, or depressurized house. If the smoke chamber is too small, the smoke will curl up against it and re-enter the house.
Similarly, if the house is depressurized, lack of air will hamper the fire and make the fireplace smoky. The problem of smoke entering the house in this manner can be solved by installing fireplace doors or smoke guard. Fireplace doors won't just curb the entry of smoke, but will also prevent the loss of heat.
How to Fix Smelly Fireplace?
Bad odor is a sign of some underlying problem with the fireplace. It may range from a smoky fireplace to buildup of soot on the chimney walls. In either case, as soon as you notice any smell coming from the fireplace, you should diagnose the problem and fix it.
In case the problem is pertaining to excess smoke from the fireplace, you can fix it by using the several methods discussed here. On the other hand, if it is caused as a result of the accumulation of soot on the chimney walls, you will have to clean this soot.
In order to clean fireplace soot, you can either use a vacuum cleaner or a stiff-bristled brush. If these don't work, you can resort to cleansing agents such as washing soda or tri-sodium phosphate to clean it.
Prevention, they say, is better than cure. You can keep all these fireplace problems at bay by putting in a little more effort in the maintenance part. Simple measures like cleaning the fireplace regularly and using a chimney cap can help avoid all the problems associated with a fireplace.