Chimney Problem: Smoking in the Living Room

If smoke blows into your house instead of up the chimney, the first place to look is probably in the flue. A blocked flue is the main cause of many chimney problems. Look for soot, debris and even bird nests. Again, to be safe, hire a certified inspector to check out the problem. If the inspector confirms straightforward blockage, you can clean the chimney with a couple of specialized tools and some basic precautions.

Start by protecting the area around the fireplace with drop cloths over any rugs and furniture. Then install a fireplace cover. They cost about $50, attach to a shop vacuum and protect the room. You also need a chimney brush that is the appropriate size and shape for your flue, and probably various rods and adaptors.

For the best results, work from the top of the chimney rather than the fireplace. Take care when working at heights, and use eye protection, gloves, and a dust mask. Push the brush up and down through the chimney all the way to the fireplace, using a powerful flashlight to check your work.