Skip to main content

Schedule Appointment

Expert Tips for Troubleshooting a Smoky Fireplace in Arlington, VA

A crackling fire in the fireplace is a warm, cozy, and enchanting sight, especially during the cold winter months. However, a smoky fireplace can significantly disrupt this idyllic image, leaving you with an unpleasant, choking atmosphere and potential health risks. Smoky fireplaces are a common problem faced by homeowners in Arlington, VA, and its surrounding areas. Fortunately, with the right knowledge and professional help like A&T Chimney Sweeps fireplace cleaning and repair service in Arlington, VA, this issue can be quickly and effectively resolved.

So, if your once-enjoyable fireside moments are now marred by smoky fumes, let’s delve into the expert tips for troubleshooting this issue.

1. Check the Damper

The damper is a movable plate in the flue of the fireplace, which opens to let the smoke out and closes to prevent cold air from coming in when the fireplace is not in use. If the damper is closed or partially open, it can cause the smoke to blow back into the room. Make sure the damper is fully open when you’re using the fireplace.

2. Examine the Chimney

A blocked or dirty chimney often results in a smoky fireplace. Over time, soot, creosote (a byproduct of burning wood), and other debris can accumulate in the chimney obstructing the smoke’s path. Regular chimney cleaning is essential to maintain a smoke-free fireplace.

3. Inspect the Firewood

The type and condition of firewood you use significantly influence the amount of smoke produced. Hardwoods like oak, hickory, or ash, which have been seasoned (dried) for at least six months, are the best choice. They burn hotter and cleaner, producing less smoke compared to softwoods or unseasoned wood.

4. Look at the Fire Grate Position

The fire grate’s position in the fireplace affects the smoke. If the grate is placed too far forward, it can cause smoke to spill out instead of going up the chimney. Ideally, the fire grate should be positioned at the back of the fireplace to guide the smoke properly.

5. Evaluate the House Pressure

Negative pressure inside your home can also lead to a smoky fireplace. This situation usually happens when the indoor air pressure is lower than the outdoor pressure, causing the smoke to be drawn back into the house. Using exhaust fans, running a clothes dryer, or heating systems can create negative pressure. To resolve this, try opening a window slightly on the windward side of the house.

While these tips can help you troubleshoot a smoky fireplace, it’s crucial to remember that fireplace and chimney maintenance should be left to professionals. Regular inspection and cleaning by a professional service like A&T Chimney Sweeps can ensure the safe and efficient operation of your fireplace.


1. How often should I have my chimney cleaned?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents should be inspected at least once a year. Cleaning frequency depends on the amount of soot or creosote buildup.

2. What causes a fireplace to smoke into the house?

A smoky fireplace can be caused by various factors, including a blocked or dirty chimney, improper use of damper, wet or unseasoned firewood, incorrect fire grate position, or negative air pressure in the house.

3. Can a smoky fireplace be dangerous?

Yes, a smoky fireplace can be potentially dangerous. It can lead to poor indoor air quality and pose serious health risks, including respiratory issues, due to the presence of carbon monoxide and other harmful pollutants.

4. Can I clean the chimney myself?

While some minor cleaning tasks can be performed, it is advisable to hire a professional chimney sweep for a thorough inspection and cleaning. This is because professionals are trained to identify and address potential issues that may not be apparent to the untrained eye.

In conclusion, a smoky fireplace is not just a nuisance but can also pose significant health risks. Hence, it’s essential to address the issue promptly. By following the expert tips shared above and enlisting the help of professional fireplace cleaning and repair services like A&T Chimney Sweeps, you can enjoy a warm, cozy, and smoke-free fireplace in your Arlington, VA home.

Schedule Appointment

Leave a Reply