We live in a mountain valley, and sometimes the wind can get really intense. We’re talking gusts that reach 40 to 50 mph. The first time this happened to us right after installing our wood burning stove, a terrible thing happened: smoke blew into our house!
Thankfully, we knew this was something that might happen, so we didn’t panic. We simply opened the front door and all the windows, and the smoke quickly dissipated. However, the next day we quickly took action to fix the problem…
Why Smoke Blows Down Your Chimney
When smoke blows down your chimney and into your house, it’s called blowback. It happens because the wood stove or fireplace isn’t producing a strong enough draft to overcome the wind and blow the smoke out; so the smoke goes the only place it can: into your house.
There are several reasons your wood stove might not be producing a strong enough draft, but until the cause is detected and corrected, blowback will continue to be a problem for you. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes.
It’s Just a Fluke
If you’ve been using your stove or fireplace for a long time without any issues, and then all of a sudden you get blowback, it might just be a fluke. Truth be told, on rare occasions blowback is inevitable. If a strong enough gust of wind hits your chimney just the right way, there’s no draft powerful enough that’s going to overcome it.
Your Chimney Is Too Short
The higher the chimney, the stronger the draft. If you know your chimney is a bit on the short side, that’s probably why you’re not getting a good draft. Extend the chimney as high as you can.
Cracks and Gaps
If you have any spots on your flue or your chimney where smoke could possible leak out, that’s another reason you might not be getting a good draft. These spots should be sealed with furnace cement.
Lack of Ventilation
Sometimes the reason you can’t get a good draft is because the room doesn’t have enough airflow for the fire to get a good draw. For example, if you’re in a small space that’s sealed up like a drum, the fire is going to draw all the fresh air out, and then it won’t be able to suck any more fresh air in to keep the draft going.
Something’s Obstructing the Airflow
If your chimney is clogged, or if there is something around it that is obstructing the air from exiting it, you’re definitely going to get blowback.
How We Fixed Our Blowback Problem
We did two things to fix our problem: #1. We extended the height of our chimney by two feet. #2. We sealed the seams around the elbows with furnace cement. Elbows have a tendency to leak – something we’ve observed – so they should always be sealed.
Since doing these two things, blowback has not been such a problem for us anymore. There are those days when it’s just so incredibly windy we still get a little blowback, but on those days we simply crack the front door or a window, and that gives us the draw we need to overcome the wind.
If you cannot figure out why smoke is blowing down your chimney after evaluating the most common causes, you should have a professional come out and look at it ASAP. Blowback can be very dangerous and it’s not something you should live with. We hope this information helps you solve your problem!