Help! Smoke is backing up into my home from the fireplace!: One of the most common issues with fireplaces is they sometimes do not draft well. You open the damper and place your starter paper and kindling properly and ignite the fire...next thing you know you have smoke billowing into your home because the smoke does not want to go up the chimney. When this happensyour fireplace is not drafting well.
The damper is open, so why does smoke backup from my fireplace?: This could be happening for any number of reasons. Your house might be sealed up too tight, or you might have a bathroom or kitchen fan on that is creating back pressure into the house. There might even be a wind outside that is hitting your chimney just right and forcing air down the chimney. Whatever the culprit is, it would be better to know about it before you light the fire.
Know about a draft problem before you light the fire: Wouldn't it be nice to know if you have a draft issue with your fireplace before you light that fire, so you don't have the smoke backup? You can use a smoke pencil puffer (sometimes called a smoke stick) to test the draft of your fireplace before you light your fire. By pulling the trigger on a smoke pencil it allows you to make a small plume of smoke that will test your fireplace draft, and then immediately you can stop the smoke by releasing the trigger. Just watch the smoke to see if it lifts up the chimney like it should, or if it wafts back into the room. The smoke stick gives you a nice visible controllable smoke that is non-toxic, and has a faint sweet smell that fades in seconds.
How much does a smoke pencil cost?: A smoke pencil puffer like this costs $25 and will work hundreds of times. If you have ever had to clean and deodorize your home after backing up smoke from the fireplace you know that $25 is small price to pay to keep this from happening.
What else is a smoke pencil good for?: Beside using them in the fireplace, smoke pencils are also used to find air movement drafts in the home due to bad door or window seals, or other small gaps in the homes energy envelope. Home energy raters use smoke pencils to test homes for air tightness. HVAC professionals use them to see if they have sealed up a homes ducts well. You can use them to test your homes HVAC ducts as well and see if you need to tape your ducts to save energy. Click here to buy a Smoke Pencil Puffer