There is nothing more enjoyable than the warmth and soft glow of a fire in your fireplace – especially this time of year. However, if the smoke from your fire isn’t going the direction it’s supposed to, you might be in for a mess to clean up, an odor to get rid of, and a lot of frustration.

When smoke is moving the wrong way, it’s likely because of one of two problems.

  1. There is something clogging the chimney, blocking the intended exit for the smoke.
  2. There is an air movement problem within the house.

Either way, there’s no need to worry. The certified crew here at English Sweep have your back. We know how to pinpoint why smoke might be entering your home and some suggestions for fixing the problem.

✔️ Make Sure Your Chimney Isn’t Clogged

On the surface, the idea of a clogged chimney seems a little far fetched. After all, what sort of things could clog such a hard to reach opening? The answers may surprise you – and they are more common than you’d think.

smoke in a room with a lit fireplace in the backgroundUnwanted Critters

Chimneys tend to remain pretty dry and protected from natural elements, such as snow and rain. This makes them an appealing location for small critters, such as birds, squirrels, and even raccoons, to make a home. And the nests, droppings, food waste, and other debris the accompanies them can quickly block the ability for smoke to pass through your chimney. Of course, your home wasn’t built to double as a home for a wild member of the animal kingdom, which means getting them out is a must – especially since they have no interest in paying rent.

The solution to getting rid of unwanted critters in your chimney is pretty straight forward. We do not suggest trying to remove wild animals on your own. Call a local professional, such as animal control, and they will be able to safely remove the animal without harm.

And, once the animal is removed, it is necessary to have your chimney swept and inspected by a professional, so that any nests and debris buildup gets removed and you can enjoy your fireplace the way you deserve to.


A more dangerous source of chimney clogging is built-up creosote. Creosote is a chemical byproduct that comes from burning wood. It rises up your chimney with the smoke, but cools before it exits the chimney, condensing and building up on the inner walls. Given enough time, this creosote can close the airway and leave no room for smoke to get out.

Creosote is also dangerous because it is highly combustible. It is one of the leading causes of chimney fires, having the potential to cause extensive damage to your property.

The solution to removing creosote is having your chimney professionally swept. It is easy and important to set up regular maintenance visits to keep your chimney ready for use, healthy, and working efficiently. The experts at English Sweep are well-equipped to maintain your chimney and keep creosote build-up from becoming a problem.

✔️ Make Sure Air is Moving Up and Out

If you’ve established that there is nothing clogging your chimney, but air flow is still a problem, air flow problems might be the issue. There are lots of things that can cause air to come down your chimney and into your home, but it usually has to do with negative air pressure.

an sky view of a neighborhood of houses on a bright, snowy dayA well-insulated home is important for maintaining efficiency in keeping heat in and cold out. However, it isn’t always good for chimney owners or for airflow. For every cubic foot of air in a home there will need to be a cubic foot of air to replace it as it gets used. When homes are airtight for insulation purposes, air gets used more quickly than can be replaced.

In order to counter this effect, nature itself will actually try to replace the inside air by pulling in air wherever it can. And, if you have a chimney, your chimney will be a prime candidate for nature to pull air through.

There are some short-term solutions to solve airflow issues quickly (albeit temporarily).

  • Crack a window. This will allow air to flow in through the small gap in the window so that the chimney can let in air and smoke out rather than in.
  • Adjust your damper. Is your damper shut or not open all the way? Sometimes homeowners simply forget to open it, which makes their smoke issues an easy fix.
  • Prime your flue. Sometimes the cold air in your flue is simply too overpowering. It weighs down the warm air coming up, sending it back into your home. Try warming your flue ahead of time to avoid this.

The problem with temporary solutions is that they will need to be done every time you use your fireplace – and they don’t always work exactly as you hope. English Sweep offers long-term makeup air solutions that are designed to always make sure air is flowing the directions it should.

Contact Our Techs for Quality Care

Ready to get in your fireplace in the best shape possible? Contact English Sweep today to find out the best ways you can keep smoke moving out and away from your home, so that you can enjoy your fireplace the way you intended.

Call us at 636-535-2038 or reach out online now.