We Provide Smoky Fireplace Troubleshooting Services for Chimneys & Fireplaces

In San Antonio

Have you ever sat down, ready to relax and enjoy a cozy fire in your fireplace, only to be hit with a wall of smoke? This is less than ideal, and it’ll put a quick stop to your plans of relaxing indoors for the evening.

So… what can be done? Well, there are actually lots of potential causes for a smoking chimney or fireplace, which means that there’s a lot of potential solutions. Fortunately for those in San Antonio, Boerne, New Braunfels, Seguin, Canyon Lake, San Marcos, and more, we’ve got the tools and training to tackle it all. We’re here to handle all of your chimney services and repairs.

Why Is My Fireplace Smoking?

There are quite a few reasons why your chimney or fireplace might be smoking. We’ve provided a list of questions to consider why this issue is one you’re experiencing.

Is your chimney damper open?

Your chimney damper is meant to help seal your chimney when it’s not in use, ensuring your home temperatures aren’t affected by cold outside air swooping through. Which is great, but you need to make sure that you open it when you want to use your fireplace.

So, if you’re experiencing a smoky fireplace, check your damper first, before doing any more troubleshooting or calling in an expert. This is a quick and easy fix, and one that you definitely don’t need to pay a chimney professional to figure out.

Is your firebox too large?

A firebox that’s too large for the flue coming off of it can create problems when it comes to properly exhausting smoke. Essentially, the flue is too small to transfer the amount of smoke that piles up in the firebox, so some of it comes back out of the fireplace opening instead.

There are a few ways to resolve this. You can either invest in a firebox rebuild or restoration to have it sized more appropriately, install fireplace doors to limit the amount of air that has access to the fireplace, or you might consider installing a smoke guard.

Is your chimney clogged up?

Now, obviously if your chimney is full of creosote, debris, or unwanted critters, it won’t be able to properly vent out smoke and other fumes. In these cases, a thorough cleaning or sweeping will be in order. Buildup of this nature also increases the chance of chimney damages, fire hazards, gas leaks, and more, which is why investing in regular sweepings is such an important part of maintaining a healthy fireplace system.

Do you have a negative airflow problem?

A home that’s built tight and well-insulated is appealing to anyone looking to save on monthly energy bills, but this can lead to some problems when it comes time to light fires in your fireplace. Tighter homes tend to lead to makeup air problems – essentially the air is leaving your chimney quicker than outside air can come in and replace it. Which means smoke will back up and enter into your living space. 

Now, a quick fix here is to crack a window to invite in that much needed makeup air, but this may not be a plausible long-term solution. Fortunately, we’re here to help with that – call today to discuss your options.

Is your flue too cold?

Do you need to prime your flue? Temps don’t get too low here in San Antonio, but we do have colder days now and then. Sometimes, if your flue hasn’t been recently used and is filled up with that cooler outdoor air, the cold air will push down on the smoke and fumes that are trying to move up and escape. This creates a backdraft of smoke into your living space, which will continue until the flue can properly warm up.

Warm your flue by lighting a rolled up piece of newspaper and holding it up inside of the opening for a few minutes until the airflow reverses.

Are you using seasoned firewood?

It may seem like you can throw any wood pieces you come across into your wood-burning fireplace, but if these are too wet (or unseasoned), they won’t burn as effectively, and they’ll produce a lot more smoke in the process as well. Not only does this cause home disruptions, but it encourages creosote buildup in your flue too.

Make sure any logs you’re using have been properly dried out for at least six months, so that they burn hotter and cleaner. Your fireplace, chimney, and household will thank you for it!

Do you need a new chimney cap?

If your chimney cap wasn’t sized correctly or appropriately installed, you’re bound to face issues – one of which could potentially be smoke backing up into your home. While your chimney cap is necessary for keeping water and outside debris out, it needs to be installed in a way where smoke and other fumes can still escape.

If you think your chimney cap may be the cause of your smoky fireplace issues, we’d be happy to help you out by installing a new one.

Is your masonry damaged?

Damaged and cracked masonry leaves open pathways for smoke to exit your chimney from the sides and enter your home. That said, this is only one of many issues damaged masonry can invite, so having repairs completed swiftly is a must. Call us out right away if you suspect your masonry may be suffering.

The Dangers of Smoke in Your Home

Smoke piling into your home is inconvenient and unpleasant, sure, but it also invites some serious risks and dangers too. Some of these include:

  • Health Risks: Smoke exposure can lead to health problems, like respiratory issues – think coughing, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, wheezing, and more. In addition, it can be irritating to your eyes, nose, and throat.
  • Home Damage: Smoke can leave behind a foul odor that sinks into your furniture, carpets, curtains, and more. It can also leave behind a residue that causes discoloration to your walls, floors, and ceilings.
  • Fire Hazards: If there’s smoke coming into your home, then there’s something amiss with your chimney (like clogs, masonry damage, etc.) that should be addressed. And many of these issues invite an increased risk of fire occurring in your home.
  • Carbon Monoxide: If smoke is entering your home, carbon monoxide could have access to your space too. This gas is extremely poisonous and extremely hard to detect, making it something to avoid at all costs.

Can I Troubleshoot My Smoky Fireplace On My Own?

You can certainly look things over and try to make some assessments. In fact, we encourage being aware of potential causes of smoke backup, as well as any other hazards you could experience, so you can operate your system as safely and efficiently as possible every single burning season.

Not to mention, if the fix is as simple as opening your damper or switching to drier firewood, then that’s clearly something you can troubleshoot and resolve on your own.

That said, when it’s clear things are more complicated, and it comes time to move forward and find solutions to bigger issues, it’s best to consult an expert. Our techs can determine exactly what’s causing smoke to pile into your home, then provide the services necessary to ensure the job gets done right.

And while some of the potential solutions might seem like something you could DIY, all chimney repairs should be left to an expert who has been certified and trained in how to get the job done correctly and appropriately. Otherwise, your risk of experiencing more damages and further hazards down the line could go up exponentially.

What Should I Do If Smoke Is Coming Out of My Fireplace?

First and foremost, get the fire put out. Then, do what you can to clear smoke out of your living space. Open windows and doors, use fans if needed, and clear the air, so your indoor air quality and the health of those living in the home isn’t affected.

Next up, call a chimney professional to do an inspection and get to the root of the issue. A certified tech should be able to identify the root cause of any smoky fireplace issues you’re experiencing, then recommend the best steps for moving forward.

And while you’re waiting for expert advice and professional services? Stop putting your fireplace to use. It’s simply not worth the risk of inviting more damage or potential health hazards.

How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned?

Chimneys should be cleaned and inspected on an annual basis. This practice increases the likelihood that sweeps will find issues early on, so that they can be promptly addressed. This minimizes the risk of fire hazards, gas leaks, and – you guessed it – smoke backup, so that you can use your fireplace with ease and peace of mind with every burning season.

Can a Smoky Fireplace Be Caused By a Problem With the Chimney Liner?

Your chimney liner plays an instrumental role in keeping your fireplace system functioning well and safely, and if it’s broken down, you can experience any number of hazards – one being a smoky chimney or fireplace. This is because a broken liner will create pathways through which smoke and fumes can enter your home.

In addition to this, a damaged liner can cause your masonry to break down, which again, opens up gaps through which smoke can escape.

This is another big reason why booking that annual inspection is so vital. Because of the liner’s position in your flue, spotting damages or other issues isn’t always so easy – especially if you don’t have the extensive chimney knowledge that trained and certified chimney sweeps (like us) have about how the inside of a flue should look.

If you have any suspicions that a faulty liner may cause smoke to enter your household, stop putting your system to use, then call in our techs right away to look things over. We’ll let you know where you stand, then help you form the best plan for moving forward based on your needs and budget.

Can Gas Fireplaces Smoke?

No – gas logs should not produce any smoke. That said, they still produce emissions, like carbon monoxide and other fumes, that can put your household at risk. And because of this, they should be properly vented, regularly maintained, and inspected annually by a professional Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweep.

Now, a complaint that isn’t all that uncommon is having a gas fireplace that smells like smoke, despite not producing it. So, what could be causing this? And is it something to worry about?

Why does my gas fireplace smell like smoke?

  • New gas log smell. Sometimes that stuff that’s been on the logs after the manufacturer’s process is complete (like paints, lubricants, and more) need to burn off, and it can produce a smell that seems a little… off. This isn’t anything to stress about – once the smells burn off after a couple hours, you’ll be good to use your system odor-free.
  • Dirty gas logs or burners. If parts of your gas setup are dirty or clogged up, you may notice a smell that’s similar to smoke as a result of incomplete combustion. In these cases, a thorough cleaning of the logs themselves will be in order.
  • Damaged gas logs or burners. Damages of any nature can lead to venting problems, which can cause smoke-like odors to enter your household. In this case, swift repairs will definitely be required.
  • Gas leaks. Gas leaks are more known to smell like rotten eggs, but they could produce a smoke-like smell as well. This is obviously a big cause for concern – turn your gas off immediately, leave your household, and call appropriate authorities to safely handle the situation.
  • Poor venting. Like with wood-fueled fireplaces and smoke, poor venting is a huge cause for strange odors coming from your fireplace. Proper draft and airflow is vital for any fireplace system, so have an expert evaluate your setup to ensure everything is flowing fine.

We’re Here to Offer Quality Solutions

Many times, chimney-related issues need to be troubleshooted before effective solutions can be implemented. What’s most important is hiring a certified, experienced, and trustworthy team of experts to tackle the job, so you can feel good about lighting and enjoying fires year after year.

Don’t wait – reach out now to enjoy a safer fireplace experience. Call us at 830-620-9130 or reach out online now.


New chimney consruction or chimney rebuilds are all part of our fireplace and chimney repairs expertise. We’ve got you covered!