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that is dedicated to excellent customer service and quality craftsmanship.
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in Marin: (415) 479-1080
in San Francisco (415) 252-0676  
We specialize in Gas Appliances, Restorations, Sales, Service and Inspections

Fireplace Safety Services covering chimney cleaning, repairs, remodels, and inspections in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, since 1978.

Smoke-Back and Decay

When Smoke Takes The Enjoyment From Your Fireside Experience

Gathering around a warm, flickering fire with friends and family can significantly reduce stress levels and evoke warm memories and feelings of calm and relaxation. But throw a smoke problem into the mix and you’ve got a completely different feel.

If you experience smoke backdraft issues when you sit down to enjoy your fireplace, something is wrong. In a properly functioning and drafting chimney system, smoke will rise up and out of the chimney instead of lingering in the chimney and working its way into the home.

The Hazards Of A Backdrafting Chimney

Not only is a backdrafting chimney a real mood-killer, it can also be incredibly dangerous to your health and incredibly damaging to your belongings, including your fireplace’s façade.

  • Health-Related Concerns – Breathing in carbon monoxide, smoke and the small particles within can irritate allergies and asthma and cause all sorts of respiratory problems. This can be especially dangerous for infants and the elderly.

  • Household Damage – When smoke lingers in your home, it can end up leaving stains on walls, ceilings, furniture, window treatments and more. You can also bet your fireplace face will be smoke-stained and dingy-looking as a result.

For the sake of your health and your home, don’t let smoke problems go untreated!

Potential Causes Of Smoke Problems

  • Flue Blockages – In many cases, backdrafting problems are due to a blockage within the flue. Things like nesting materials, creosote buildup, dead animals, foliage and more can hinder smoke from properly exiting the chimney.
    • Solution – In this case, the solution is simple. We’ll simply remove the blockages and recommend ways of preventing them in the future (for example, installing a quality chimney cap).

  • Air Shortage – If your house is air-tight (typical of many newer constructions), it’s possible that an appliance competing for the same limited air is pulling the smoke back down the chimney and into the home.
    • Solution – A solution to this problem could be as simple as opening a window when using your fireplace, or installing an additional outside air source.

  • Poor Construction – If the “mason” building your fireplace and chimney paid no mind to the physics involved, your smoke problems could be due to poor construction.
    • Solution – In this case, we may recommend a rebuild. Although some minor alterations can be made in some cases (for example, extending the flue, adding a smoke guard or hood enclosure), not all situations can be so easily fixed.

Let Our Troubleshooting Experts Fix Your Smoke Problem!

Has billowing smoke taken the pleasure out of your fireside experience? Call Fireplace Safety Services at (415) 252-0676 – we can help! To schedule online, please click here.


It’s not always easy to figure out why your chimney leaks, so call on our troubleshooting experts to track the problem to its source.

Call (415) 252-0676

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Awards & Reviews

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Certifications & Associations

     Certified Chimney Sweep         National Fireplace Institute Certified
     California State Contractors board
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"I am thoroughly happy with the job you did on my new fireplace. Hugh was great to work with and I would recommend him to anyone who is considering a new fireplace. Hugh and his crew were polite, on time, clean, knowledgeable and a pleasure to have working in my home." 
~ M. Charles, Petaluma

"I was very happy with the office staff and with all the people in the field. You have a very good company."
~ D. Gable, San Francisco

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