Sick of Wood Smoke? Try These Quick Fixes!

How to stop smoke from coming back into your house from a wood stove or fireplace

Is your wood stove or fireplace filling your home with smoke? Don't worry; these quick fixes will help you enjoy a cozy fire again.

Step 1: Check the Basics

Baffle Position: If the baffle is not opened, you will have some smoke issues. This article provides excellent advice on this topic.

  • Fireplace: The 'baffle' is basically a door on a chimney to avoid back-draft when the fireplace is not in use.
  • Older Wood Stove: On an older wood stove, the baffle should be in a fixed position. Ensure it is seated correctly. Some will use a ‘key damper’ at the stove's top. Make sure it is fully open.
  • Newer High-Efficiency Wood Stoves: In this instance, the 'baffle' is there to help with the 'secondary combustion.' Ensure it is firmly seated.
  • Catalytic and Hybrid Wood Stoves: You should engage the catalyst only when the fire is fully started. Closing the catalyst too early can cause wood smoke to back up in the house.

Fuel: 'Wet wood,' i.e., wood that contains 20% or more moisture, is difficult to ignite and produces excess wood smoke and hazardous creosote. An inexpensive wood moisture meter is your best friend to avoid smoke in your house.

Air intake: high-efficiency units are provided with an adjustable air intake. You should follow correct fire-starting procedures to avoid draft problems. But we can sum up the steps as follows*:

  1. Open damper or catalyst fully
  2. Fully open the air intake control
  3. Use this fail-proof fire startup procedure.
  4. Leave the door and intake air control open until the fire is ignited.
  5. Engage the catalyst and adjust the air intake to your desired position.

* Note: The above may vary depending on your wood-burning appliance. Always refer to your owner's manual for fire procedures and safety.

Step 2: Troubleshooting Common Drafting Issues

Many variables affect chimney drafting. It can be frustrating as it may change from day to day. We list the most common here*:

  • Temperature differential
  • Barometric pressure
  • Exhaust fans turned on in the house
  • Wind
  • Chimney height
  • Improperly sized chimney
  • Obstructions

* This in-depth article on why your chimney won't draft provides additional info. 

Still struggling with smoke? Let a WE LOVE FIRE® expert find the perfect solution for your home. They can inspect your fireplace or wood stove, provide recommendations, and provide sweeping service to eliminate frustrating fireplace problems.

Below is a list of fireplace and grill stores that service Virginia (VA)

Manassas, VA

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109

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Mechanicsville, VA

Hearth & Home Shoppe
8151 Mechanicsville Tpk
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

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Roanoke, VA

Dixie Building Products Inc.
3342 Melrose Ave NW
Roanoke, VA 24017

Warrenton, VA

Costello's Warrenton Fireplace & Hot Tub
251 West Lee Hwy
Warrenton, VA 20186

For more information, contact your local fireplace and grill store..

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