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Old 02-13-2018, 03:32 PM   #1
35remington
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Default Need help with fireplace smoking

We are having a problem with the house always smelling like a BBQ joint. Trust me, I'd use it as cologne if I could but SWMBO does not approve.

House was built in the '70s. Original fireplace. I had it professionally cleaned for $100 maybe a year ago. They took the top cap off and used some a brush/hose connected to a DeWalt. Said it was pretty dirty. We have a lot of fires, and I use mainly oak. When the fire is just getting started it is not uncommon for smoke to come out of the fireplace instead of going up the flue. The vent is definitely all the way open.

Thoughts? Places to start looking for problems? Love the fireplace but don't want all my furniture to smell like burned wood.

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Old 02-13-2018, 03:35 PM   #2
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The Chimney may need to be raised to get a good draft
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Old 02-13-2018, 03:43 PM   #3
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I had the same problem in my old house. The chimney was lower than the roof peak. It had to have a roaring hot fire so it would draft right but that made it to hot in the living room. I eventually just quit using it.
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Old 02-13-2018, 03:48 PM   #4
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You'll have to add length to the top of the flue.

How wide is the opening into the living room? Should be 36" or 42"
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Old 02-13-2018, 03:49 PM   #5
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Crack a door/window and see if it helps the smoke go up the chimney.
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Old 02-13-2018, 03:50 PM   #6
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We had the same problem when we moved into our house. We had a 2ft riser attached to the top of the chimney, as well as made the opening into the house smaller by attaching a 4" or so piece of metal across the top. I believe making the hole smaller on the inside is what did the trick, as it creates a smaller space, which in turn creates greater draft, not allowing smoke to roll out. At the end of the day, you aren't getting the draft you need. You just have to find out what is causing it in your specific case.
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Old 02-13-2018, 03:50 PM   #7
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both responses could be spot on you just need to check. One thing you need to do when first starting a fire is to make sure you get it drafting right away. If you start with a small little flame you will get smoke back in the house and then if the Heater comes on it will draw air down the chimney.

What I do when I have a cold chimney is use lighter fluid and get a big flame right away to get the draft going. if you don't like that get a stack of newspaper and let it flame up real big as your fire under the wood is starting.

Key is heating up the chimney fast and not slow.
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Old 02-13-2018, 03:54 PM   #8
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Not unusual for a fire brick fire place to smoke the first couple of minutes, until the heat gets a good draft started. Start your fire at the back of the box until it warms up a little. That should take up the start up smoke.

If you house is sealed up good that will cause it to smoke a little. 70's houses are not usually sealed that tight but you might try a slight opening of a window to relieve the vacuum created by a sealed house.

The rule of thumb on chimney height is 2' above the peak or 2' above the closest roof structure within 10' level. This can vary because of trees of terrain around the house
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Old 02-13-2018, 03:54 PM   #9
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How much of a "lip" does the opening have at the top? The smoke will roll in the top of the fireplace before going up the chimney. I had to have a fireplace rebuilt due to termites once. When the guy was finished it looked fantastic. We had replaced the original brick with limestone and we had this gigantic opening now. He had failed to leave an overhang large enough at the top and when I started the first fire, smoke billowed out of the fireplace into the living room. He came back and cut the stone, installed a new lintel and a short row of limestone at the top of the opening. Worked fine after that.
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Old 02-13-2018, 03:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CabezaBlanca View Post
I had the same problem in my old house. The chimney was lower than the roof peak. It had to have a roaring hot fire so it would draft right but that made it to hot in the living room. I eventually just quit using it.
Yep--neighbor behind me had to add about 12-15 rows of brick to his chimney--easy to tell as the new bricks don't match the old exactly.

This too--"What I do when I have a cold chimney is use lighter fluid and get a big flame right away to get the draft going. if you don't like that get a stack of newspaper and let it flame up real big as your fire under the wood is starting."

I use my woodworking plane to cut curls off a piece of cedar fence board and use it to get things going---no big pieces at first, just the cedar shavings, sticks and twigs from the yard (I have 15 or so trees on our lot) and make sure the pile is as far back in the fireplace as I can.

Last edited by dustoffer; 02-13-2018 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 02-13-2018, 04:08 PM   #11
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Everyone so far is at least a little bit right.

If your fireplace is a real masonry (made out of fire brick with a smoke shelf and steel damper) then it will have clay flue tile chimney liner. If the opening is 36" those flue tiles should be 13"X13", if it's 42" they should be 13"X17". In Wilco you will probably have to get them from Acme. I have stacked them on top before and secured with Liquid Nails Const. Adhesive. Need to establish that that is the type FP you have first though.
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Old 02-13-2018, 04:09 PM   #12
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Dang y'all are chimney gurus!! Thanks for the suggestions so far. I will take measurements when I get home.

Here's how it looks from the outside.

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Old 02-13-2018, 07:55 PM   #13
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Looks like 13X13 flue, I'd buy 2 flue tile (that will raise it 2'") and stack them on, and see what happens. Truth is, it may never draw well with a cold clue. There's no need to go up any more with the rock.


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Old 02-13-2018, 08:37 PM   #14
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As stated, you need more flue pipe. In your case, top of flue should be 2' above peak of gable / roof.
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Old 02-13-2018, 08:56 PM   #15
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You either need to lower your roof about 2 feet or raise your chimney about 2 feet.
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Old 02-13-2018, 09:14 PM   #16
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The 2' rule is just a guideline, it doesn't really mean that much.


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Old 02-13-2018, 09:57 PM   #17
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If the wind is out of the south I have that problem. I bought one of these to start the fire. It puts off enough heat to make it draft until the fire gets hot enough. Fixed my problem.
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Old 02-13-2018, 10:08 PM   #18
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I had the same problem with our new fireplace....I now start the fire as far back as I can and it seems to work just fine. Good luck!
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Old 02-14-2018, 03:49 AM   #19
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My fireplace has the same issue. Try starting a fire and basically fill the living room with smoke. Itís a complete PITA to get a fire start, which I guess if cause itís not getting enough oxygen. The back of my house where the flue comes out faces North.


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Old 02-14-2018, 03:52 AM   #20
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Default Need help with fireplace smoking

This is the back of my house and now it makes perfect sense why it doesnt get good airflow.


Dipstick who built my house should have put a gas fireplace in it.



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Old 02-14-2018, 04:22 AM   #21
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2' higher than the height that's 10' away.



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Old 02-14-2018, 06:29 AM   #22
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If its real windy I have the same problem.
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:09 AM   #23
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Chimney needs to be 2' above anything 10' away
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:34 AM   #24
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Raise your fire rack a little and start with a small fire until the flue gets heated up. Just a few suggestions to help without spending a bunch of money.
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:36 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayhem View Post
This is the back of my house and now it makes perfect sense why it doesnt get good airflow.


Dipstick who built my house should have put a gas fireplace in it.



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You have other issues because chimneys height and placement is not your problem.
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:37 AM   #26
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Quote:
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You have other issues because chimneys height and placement is not your problem.
And what would that be?
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:39 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Saggy View Post
2' higher than the height that's 10' away.



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We always built the two feet higher than anything less then 10í away or up till they are ten feet horizontally from roof.
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:41 AM   #28
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Quote:
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And what would that be?
Do you have an insert or masonry fireplace?
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:41 AM   #29
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Quote:
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Do you have an insert or masonry fireplace?
insert
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:48 AM   #30
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Check damper position ( i know that sounds lame). Most inserts have an inlet air. Should look like a dryer vent outside. Make sure that is not plugged by a rat or bird nest. Triple and double insulated pipe takes a bit to get warm. So start with small fire and doors nearly closed.
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:53 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PEC View Post
Check damper position ( i know that sounds lame). Most inserts have an inlet air. Should look like a dryer vent outside. Make sure that is not plugged by a rat or bird nest. Triple and double insulated pipe takes a bit to get warm. So start with small fire and doors nearly closed.
I know exactly the inlet you are referring to and it is on the right side of the brick. I have no even looked at it to see if it is open. Thanks for your help.

The house was built in 2007 and the fire place had never been used when we moved in.

It does not have doors, just the wire screen things.
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Old 02-14-2018, 08:05 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pyrobow View Post
Not unusual for a fire brick fire place to smoke the first couple of minutes, until the heat gets a good draft started. Start your fire at the back of the box until it warms up a little. That should take up the start up smoke.

If you house is sealed up good that will cause it to smoke a little. 70's houses are not usually sealed that tight but you might try a slight opening of a window to relieve the vacuum created by a sealed house.

The rule of thumb on chimney height is 2' above the peak or 2' above the closest roof structure within 10' level. This can vary because of trees of terrain around the house
This has been my fix. I crack the back door slightly for the first 5 minutes of the fire going and no longer have an issue. It used to be bad. Smoke detectors going off and such. Once I cracked the door I've yet to have the problem.
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:19 AM   #33
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Thanks fellas I really appreciate all of the suggestions. Learning has occurred! I am going to:
* start the fire at the back of the fireplace (I had been doing it in the front)
* slightly open a window
* make sure the fire gets hot quickly

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Moser View Post
Everyone so far is at least a little bit right.

If your fireplace is a real masonry (made out of fire brick with a smoke shelf and steel damper) then it will have clay flue tile chimney liner. If the opening is 36" those flue tiles should be 13"X13", if it's 42" they should be 13"X17". In Wilco you will probably have to get them from Acme. I have stacked them on top before and secured with Liquid Nails Const. Adhesive. Need to establish that that is the type FP you have first though.
I will check on this. Thanks a bunch for your help. So extending the flue will give it a better chance of having a good draft, right? I just left a message for Rusty at Acme.
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Old 02-14-2018, 12:14 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayhem View Post
I know exactly the inlet you are referring to and it is on the right side of the brick. I have no even looked at it to see if it is open. Thanks for your help.

The house was built in 2007 and the fire place had never been used when we moved in.

It does not have doors, just the wire screen things.
Fireplaces NEVER draw as good on the north side of the house. I don't know why, but the all of the worst ones I ever worked were on the north side of the house.

I don't care what the 10/2 rule says, that flue is not tall enough for your house.

There should be a little lever inside your fireplace on one side or the other to open the outside air....but they rarely help.

Nearby trees make everything worse.
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Old 02-14-2018, 12:17 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 35remington View Post
Thanks fellas I really appreciate all of the suggestions. Learning has occurred! I am going to:
* start the fire at the back of the fireplace (I had been doing it in the front)
* slightly open a window
* make sure the fire gets hot quickly



I will check on this. Thanks a bunch for your help. So extending the flue will give it a better chance of having a good draft, right? I just left a message for Rusty at Acme.
Yes. The advice about building your fire at the back is sound, also clean out the ash before, and build your fire on top of the wood rack.
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Old 02-14-2018, 12:34 PM   #36
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We tried several things...ended up putting a chimney fan on it. It was combination of chimney north side of house and not tall enough. Cost some money but works.
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Old 02-14-2018, 12:51 PM   #37
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I believe the 10/2 rule has more to do with potential sparks exiting the flue than drafting. Actually, it's a 3/10/2 rule: must extend 3 feet above the roof penetration on the shortest side, and the top of the chimney must be 2 feet higher than any portion of the building structure within 10 feet. Need a fast, hot fire to start and a window open a little.
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Old 02-14-2018, 02:00 PM   #38
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