Originally Posted by doublesharp
doesn't sound like your chimney is drawing right.
What he said.
I have this problem sometimes with the wood fireplace in my basement family room.
Something I read on line about the dense cold air in the chimney tube doesn't allow the heated air out until it gets hot enough to move past.
Not sure if it's true, bu I cleaned my chimney again to make sure of no obstructions, triple checked my flue since it can and sometimes will drift towards close.
I've found by building a smaller, hotter fire with small pieces will get a good draft going, and I can add to it accordingly once started.
I had a guy tell me one time to blow hot air up the chimney from a hair dryer before I ever start a fire in the fireplace, should help get it drafting well.
Dunno, I never tried it, the small hot fire works for me quite well.
I don't think it helps that my chimney pipe is bent twice to get out of the basement, I always read a straight shot is best when going up.
I would also close the doors as joasis said, but I have no doors on mine, just a screen that slides across.