smokey room when fireplace is going

When I light up the fireplace, the room is filling up with smoke. I've checked the flue and it's definitely opened as far as it can go. What I'm wondering is, is it possible that the chimney, or the pipe leading up to the roof, is partially clogged? I've heard others mention too that it could be due to the air flow outside, causing the smoke to drift inside the house.
Also, the fireplace has what appear to be transparent doors on it (I'm guessing they're glass, but not sure). Is it safe to close these doors while the fireplace is lit? I just didn't want pressure to build up or something weird to happen.
If the chimney/flue/pipe (whatever it's technical name is) is clogged, what are the solutions? I've heard something about special logs you can get for the fireplace that help clean out the pipe, do these help? What do I need to repair this?
Thanks, Dustin
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dustin_atm snipped-for-privacy@no-spam.y-a-h-o-o.c-o-m wrote:

Sure. Could be a bird nest in there, for example.

That could be too. But less likely than an obstruction.

Yes, it's safe.

Those "special logs" are intended to help remove soot, and they really don't do such a great job. The best thing to do is to hire a chimney sweep to professionally clean your chimney. Make sure to tell the sweep about the problem, and ask him to check for possible causes.
-- Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
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Look at your water heater vent pipe. About 3 inch diameter, maybe 4? Then look at your chimney. How big is it? When you send vent gases out, you have to replace that air with air that comes INTO the house. The water heater has an opening of maybe 12 square inches, the chimney has a lot more. So it has to pull air in from around doors and windows to supply the draft for the smoke to go out the chimney. If you've got a 'tight' house, that air won't be sufficient for the chimney, and the fireplace won't be able to send the smoke up the chimney. So where can it go, but into the room? There are often openings for air to be pulled into the firebox area, to supply combustion air. Either you don't have them, or don't know about their presence. I suggest that you learn more about building a fire inside a house before you do it again. And remember that the utility companies see a fireplace as a net heat loss area. Especially if you forget to close the damper. You do know about the damper, don't you? Don't answer that.

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Heh, thanks for the help I guess. You're right, my house is a closed system, the A/C and heater for instance never come on because my house is sealed so tight.. :)
But seriously, I understand your point, but sorry, my house is not sealed that tightly. Nonetheless, do all fireplaces have dampers? I haven't been on the roof of my house, so I couldn't say for sure if I do. I have a flap that opens, but that's right above the firebox. Is it possible to only have that (in fact, is that considered a damper?).
I've been lighting fires in the fireplace for 2 years, as recently as a week or two ago, and today we had a significant problem with smoke whereas all other times I haven't.
Anyway, I don't think I need to learn any more about building a fire, I just need to learn a little about why my house filled up with smoke today..
Thanks, Dustin
On Sun, 8 Feb 2004 13:56:27 -0500, "Michael Baugh"

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That flap that opens up just above your firebox is indeed a damper. Make sure it is fully open.
Try this the next time it smokes: Open an outside door or a window (in the same room as the fireplace) about 1/2 way, and watch to see if the smoke goes away. If it does (and I bet it does), then your house may be a bit too airtight, and as another poster said, the fire has to get its air **somewhere.**
I have also found that my fireplace, which draws well, will often smoke when I first light it up, but after the flu has warmed well with a good fire (perhaps 30 mins or so), the smoke will clear away. On a first fire, I frequently have to open a glass sliding door halfway or even fully open, for the first 30 mins or so.
BTW, always make sure you have a flu inspection at the beginning of each season, to make sure you have no blockage and no soot buildup, either of which could cause a fire.
Hope this helps !!
--James--
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Thanks for the help, perhaps this is my problem. In this particular case, I did have the fire going really well with quite a bit of wood in the fireplace. Also, the wood is getting a little old, so it doesn't burn as long, dunno if that makes it burn faster? (and thus more smoke)
Anyway, good points, I'll take them into consideration. And as the other poster said, I hope it's not a skeleton stuck in our chimney!
Thanks again..
-Dustin
On Sun, 8 Feb 2004 21:32:48 -0500, "James Nipper"

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A couple of weeks ago, my wife was watching Riple's Believe it or Not and some family had this same problem. Upon investigation, they found out that a buglar had attempted to come down the chimney some time ago and what remained was a charred skeleton stuck in the flu. Police investigated and identified the man as a bank robber who commited the robbery some 15 years earlier. The found ID in his wallet, which was still intact, despite years of smoke and heat going up the chimney. A gruesome discovery for the new family that moved into that house! I certainly hope that isn't the case with your chimney.
-- Take care,
Mark & Mary Ann Weiss
VIDEO PRODUCTION . FILM SCANNING . AUDIO RESTORATION Hear my Kurzweil Creations at: http://www.dv-clips.com/theater.htm Business sites at: www.dv-clips.com www.mwcomms.com www.adventuresinanimemusic.com -
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