My wife and I bought a house and it has this 70's era open fireplace. We had it inspected and the guy said that it's fine to use, but technically not up to code (apparently it needs to be a certain height above the peak of the roof these days).

We just built our first fire and the smoke smell is unbearable. If possible, I'd like to not have to buy a whole new fireplace. What could be retrofitted onto the fireplace to help with this? Can glass doors be welded on?

-The grate is just a metal mesh from Lowe's

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    Was smoke coming into the room? Was the damper open? Has the chimney and pipes been cleaned and inspected? Chimney and fireplace itself might be done/inspected by two different people.
    – crip659
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 22:29
  • I could see a little bit of smoke coming into the room here and there, but not all the time. The damper was open. The chimney was inspected and the guy said it was good to run, but wouldn't clean it because it's "not up to code" Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 0:11
  • Should only get smoke in the room if starting with a cold chimney(down draft). Burning some paper first helps. Any more than a wisp or two and something is wrong, a down draft or a clog/blocked chimney. Did you have the chimney cleaned. Do that before burning again.
    – crip659
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 0:19
  • Please post a photo of the chimney on the roof. Different places have different regulations on how much the flue should be above the ridge, so that it draws properly. An expert already has told you, so do it. Extend the flue past the ridge. Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 2:06
  • I'm not sure what your inspector said was 'not up to code' but from what I can see in the pictures, that would be the entire wooden fireplace.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 8:45

1 Answer 1


If the only thing that was not up to code was the height of the chimney, adding the proper flue to the existing is a simple task..... after you sort out the brand of pipe you have. If you can get into the attic, you may be able to spot a sticker or a part of the flue that has an embossed name stamped into the outside liner. You may even be able to spot it on the end of the pipe that is at the top of the fireplace, since most of the time the labels or stamping is placed on the female end of the pipe so it does not get covered by the joining piece. A trip onto the roof will be a place to check too, and may be needed anyways to determine if the flue is double or triple wall. It may even be double wall insulated, but that is stainless steel, and it looks like you have galvanized.

Adding another section of pipe will also increase the draw the chimney has, making it less prone to back drafting, which part of the reason to have the flue a certain height above the roof.

Another thing that will cause smoke to come in is not starting with a small fire to allow the flue to heat up properly. A cold flue will not pull air in the way it will when the flue has warmed up.

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