My Chimney Has Backdraft Issues, What do I do?

Is it hard for you to keep or start a fire in your fireplace? Do you find that your fires don’t burn as hot or efficient as they could? If so, you could be experiencing backdraft problems within the chimney. The proper functioning of a chimney relies on hot air rising up and out of the stack. The hotter your fire the faster this hot air will rise resulting in a more sustainable and efficient burn. When this air begins to move in the opposite direction you are experiencing what is known as a back-draft. When the chimney suffers from backdraft problems harmful gases and irritating smoke is pushed back into the living space.


There are many reasons why your home could be experiencing a back-draft. Read on to learn more about the common problems that lead to backdrafts and what you can do about them.

Negative air pressure.
Every home has different “zones” or areas of pressure. Warm air collects in the higher zones of pressure. This pressure pushes the air out through the chimney. When the chimney is in a negative pressure (or lower pressure) zone, the flow of air is reversed. Rather than rising like it should it is pushed back into the home. Simply opening a window in the fireplace room can help neutralize this pressure.

Obstructions at the chimney.
Creosote buildup, animals’ nests and other blockages within the flue can prevent the air from escaping. With nowhere to go, the smoke and other fire byproducts get sent back into the living space. To help prevent excessive buildup schedule an annual chimney cleaning. During the visit, the technician will also typically complete an inspection looking for blockages such as nests within the flue and, if present, remove them.

Too much wind.
Those living in a windy location may experience frequent backdraft problems. Installing a chimney cap on top of the chimney crown can easily remedy this problem. Caps can also be helpful at preventing critters from taking refuge in your flue and causing further blockages.