Why is Smoke Not Going Up the Chimney?

Why is Smoke Not-Going Up the Chimney

Did you ever get excited about having a cozy evening by lighting up your fireplace, but instead of warmth, you ended up with a smoky living room? Super frustrating, right? 

Well, the simple answer is that many times, it happens because of problems like closed flu or creosote buildup, messing up the way smoke should smoothly go out. 

In this guide, we’re going to elaborately figure out why this smoky thing happens and check out easy fixes to make your fireplace time enjoyable.

How Does Smoke Go Up The Chimney?

How Does Smoke-Go Up The Chimney

Have you ever noticed that smoke coming from a chimney always goes up into the sky? Well, it’s not because the wind is pulling it up, as some might think. The real reason is simpler: hot air rises.

When a fire heats the air inside a chimney, the air expands and becomes lighter than the cooler air outside. This difference in weight creates a kind of push, making the hot air move towards areas where the pressure is lower.

Since the air around the Earth is everywhere, the smoke has only one way to go – up! This process is similar to what makes hot air balloons float.

Why is Smoke Not Going Up the Chimney?

Why is Smoke Not Going Up the Chimney

A common issue is that no smoke is coming out of the chimney up to the sky. It’s a common issue for many homeowners. Here are some reasons why this might be happening and some tips on smoky fireplace troubleshooting:

Closed Damper

So, how to keep smoke from the fireplace out of the house? Your chimney might not let smoke out because the damper is closed or partly closed. The damper controls the airflow in and out of your fireplace. If it’s closed, not enough air can get in, making it tough for the smoke to go up the chimney to escape. So, always check if the damper is open before starting a fire.


How to Fix

If your damper is closed, you need to open it before starting a fire. The easiest way to do this is to use a poker or another tool to push the lever that opens the damper.

For a top-mount damper:

  • Look for the knob or lever that controls the damper; it’s usually close to the fireplace.
  • Turn the knob or lever to the “open” position to let more air in.
  • If you want to close the damper afterward, turn the knob or lever to the “close” position.

Top mount dampers are easy to use and are a good way to control how much air comes into your home. Opening or closing the damper helps manage the heat and smoke in your living space.

Throat Damper Operation

Now, if your fireplace has a throat damper (different from a top-mount damper), here’s how you work with it. The throat damper sits just under the firebox, connected to the smoke chamber. Its main job is to control how much air goes up the chimney.

Here’s what you do:


  • Pull the lever on the front of the fireplace to open the throat damper. Some fireplaces might have a knob instead of a lever.


  • To close the throat damper, push the lever or knob in the opposite direction. It’s crucial to know that most throat dampers don’t seal tightly when closed, leaving a small gap to prevent rusting.

If you’re not sure whether the throat damper is open or closed, check the position of the lever or knob. If it’s in line with the fireplace, it’s likely open.

If trying to open the damper doesn’t solve the issue, there might be another problem. Seek professional help to fix this issue.

Low Air Pressure

For a fire to work well, the room needs to have enough fresh air coming in. A common issue with fireplaces is that in many modern homes, the spaces are sealed so tightly that there isn’t enough air pressure difference for the chimney to function properly.

This problem can also happen if you’re using the kitchen exhaust fan. When it’s on, it can pull air out of the house so fast that the pressure inside drops. This drop in pressure can lead to the fireplace not working right. If you’re facing this issue, try opening a window in the room with the fireplace. You might also need to adjust or turn off your exhaust fan.

How to Fix

If you’ve got a kitchen exhaust fan, avoid using it when your fireplace is on. Also, consider opening a window or door close to the fireplace to let more air in and improve airflow.

Another solution is to add a power ventilator near the fireplace. This gadget helps create the right airflow to push the smoke out of your home.

What is the best wood to burn in a fireplace? Read our insightful blog to find out the right answer.

Short Chimney Issue

A chimney works better when it’s taller. Why? Because when the air gets hot, it goes up, and the smoke goes with it up the chimney.

If your chimney is too short, the smoke doesn’t have enough time to go up before it cools down and comes back into your home.

How to Fix

If your chimney is too short, a good fix is to rebuild it. It involves some breaking down of the old chimney, but it pays off in the end.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Take it Down: Remove the old bricks of the chimney until you get to the roofline.
  • Clean Up: Get rid of the old mortar and clean up any mess.
  • New Foundation: Lay a fresh layer of mortar on the existing foundation.
  • Rebuild: Start putting the chimney back together using new bricks and mortar. Make sure the materials can handle the heat.
  • Finish Strong: Cap off the chimney with a weather-resistant cover.

Besides, visit our insightful blog to learn how to get rid of chimney swift birds.


Flue Trouble

If you find your home filled with smoke, another common reason might be a closed or partly closed flue. Think of the flue as the door for smoke to get out. If it’s not fully open, the smoke ends up coming back into your home. Before starting a fire, make sure the flue is wide open.

Creosote Clog
Picture your chimney as the lungs of your fireplace. With time, a stuff called creosote can build up inside, making the way for smoke narrower. It’s important to clean the chimney regularly to keep the smoke flowing smoothly. Whether you hire a chimney sweep or do it yourself, keeping things clear helps avoid that annoying smoky problem.

Right Wood Matters
The kind of wood you use can affect how your fireplace works. If the wood is wet or green, it makes more smoke. Make sure your wood is properly dried before using it. Dry wood not only burns better but also lowers the chance of having too much smoke.

Windy Days Trouble

Nature can mess with your fireplace. On windy days, strong winds can push air down the chimney, making smoke come into your home. Think about putting a chimney cap to block the wind but still let air go through.

Get Professional Help

If nothing else works, it might be smart to call in experts. A certified chimney sweep can look at your chimney for any problems you might have missed. They know what to look for and can fix things to make sure your fireplace is safe and works well.

If you’re looking for expert chimney cleaning in Austin, TX, go with Austin Chimney & Air Duct Cleaning Solutions. We’re well-rated and trusted for fixing and cleaning chimneys. Enjoy fresh air with our skilled chimney sweep, repair, and chimney topper replacement services.

Wrapping Up

We’ve looked into the reasons behind a smoky fireplace, such as closed dampers, creosote buildup, and the kind of wood you use. Whether it’s an easy solution like opening the damper or a bit more complicated, needing experts, understanding “Why is Smoke Not Going Up the Chimney?” helps you have a safer and cozier time by the fire. 



My fireplace flue is open, but still, smoke doesn’t come out of the chimney. What could be the reason? 

The issue might be inadequate ventilation or a potential blockage in the chimney, causing the smoke to remain trapped.

Why is my wood-burning stove smoking?

The wood-burning stove might smoke because the wood isn’t burning correctly, the damper is closed, or the chimney is blocked, making it hard for the smoke to go out.

Why is my chimney smoking? 

Your chimney may be smoking due to factors like a closed damper, creosote buildup, or poor ventilation.

Smoke is coming from the chimney without fire. What to do?

Check if the damper is closed and if not, there may be a hidden fire or smoldering embers; call a professional to inspect.

What can go up the chimney down?

In certain situations, downdrafts or blockages can cause smoke, debris, or even pests to go up the chimney instead of out.

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