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outside fireplace w smoke stain

2815 Views 30 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  tstex
Hello to All and Happy New Yr.

Have an outside fireplace w an off-white Austin-Stone for the hearth. Right above the firebox to the mantel, the hearth stone has become slightly discolored from smoke. This is the second yr we have used the fireplace and only the second fire this season. It was not noticeable until the last fire, so I am assuming it is going to get worse.

Is there something I can do to prevent this? I am sure w a light gauge wire brush I can remove superficial layer of the hearth stone, but then I would be right back to sq one on the next fires. IF I did remove the light soot color of smoke, is there something I can brush on that will prohibit the smoke from permeating the rock, but is not real noticeable w a clear sheen or similar?

Note, I always open the metal damper as far as it will go and have never started a fire wout it being open. I also have a Dutch Vermont Wood Burning Stove and it took only one time to know what leaving the damper closed and starting a fire will do. :surprise:

Thank you very much for your advice and pls let me know if you have any questions?

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A picture of your fireplace would help. You are asking how to treat the stone to prevent the staining, but a better approach would be to prevent the the smoke from rolling out in the first place. We know it is happening because you see the scoot.

There may be some simple improvements you can to improve the draft.

Outside fireplace? Do,you mean this simian a room and the fireplace is on the outside wall? Or is it in an outside patio environment.? If it's the later, the outside air currents will always cause draft issues and some smoke etc will always come out the front opening . If it's the former, I have never seen a wood burning fireplace that is used that doesn't exhibit this to some degree. Correction, one of the ones built in my parents houses. Mother mason was a perfectionist and under stood fireplaces to perfection obviously. It had and opening of height of 42 inches and drew a wonderful draft. You could burn a single log in that fireplace,or,a blazing fire and never smell anything . Not a wisp if smoke. My fireplace however a is vey fickle about drafts. A good outside gale, to many exhaust fans running etc. cause issues. Sometimes I crack a window to help the draft. tMy fire place has smooth brick and an wood mantle. A little elbow grease and household cleaner takes most of it off. With the textured brick and and light color, short of not using the fireplace , I don't think there is any way to prevent this. Perhaps a custom set of glass doors over the fireplace that will seal tighter than anything you can get off the shelf might help. Or convert the fireplace to a vented gas log set.
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Try initially lighting only 1 log placed at the very back to prevent a re-occurance. After that log warms the stack a little to cause a better draft then add a couple more.

To clean try removing with a vacuum attached to a brush to get any excess. A dilute bleach solution, after the vacuum, may be necessary in a small inconspicuous location under the front opening to determine if that's advisable.
Good Morning Gentlemen, Thank you all for your replies.

Yes, this is an outside fireplace under a covered pavilion. it does not face an open direct wind, but since it is outside, the drafting principles of this fireplaces vs my woodburning stove in the country [inside house] are totally different.

Yes, I know the smoke is going to come up and out the fire box area, so either putting a fan in front to blow away or start the fires differently, is going to be my only future solution. For now, I am focused on cleaning the soot off, then discerning potential options to for prevention. when I get back home, I'll try water and bleach and see what happens and post back. If you can suggest anything else, pls advise. also, I did not take a pic of it, but its simply discolored some darker than the rest of the stone from the fire box to mantle.

Again, thank you for your help, tstex
Once you get it clean (either with the wire bush and/or a smoke remover, seal the stone with something like Prime-A-Pel 200. It will then be much easier to clean in the future.

And build small paper fires first to warm the flues.
You can remove the staining with some TSP and a stiff nylon brush, use a half cup of TSP in gallon of water and scrub the affected area, you may have to do this twice depending on how bad it's stained, be a good idea to use rubber gloves.
Tscar & Canary, thank you both very much.

Btw, does heating the flue first kind of prime it to help suck the smoke out better or for creating a better initial draft? [I believe is said the same thing twice just diff ways].
Btw, does heating the flue first kind of prime it to help suck the smoke out better or for creating a better initial draft?
Ayuh,... Like SS says, start yer fire at the back of the fire box to help heat the flue quicker, start small, 'n build the fire up,.....
But a poorly built/ designed firebox might always smoke out the hearth,...

So which way does this fireplace face, in relation to the prevailin' wind of yer area,..??

I'm buildin' a couple steel fireplaces now from propane tank ends welded together into a ball, sittin' on ole asphalt paver axles lain on their side,....

I'll be able to turn the whole fireplace to use the winds to my advantage, rather than bein' chased away from the fire, by smoke,...
Thx Bondo.

"So which way does this fireplace face, in relation to the prevailin' wind of yer area,..??"
The prevailing winds are from the N, and the covered FP & hearth/firebox faces east. I do not lite a fire if the winds are in excess of 5-8mph...I try to find still evenings w crystal clear nights.

"I'm buildin' a couple steel fireplaces now from propane tank ends welded together into a ball, sittin' on ole asphalt paver axles lain on their side,...". I'm not sure I follow you you have some pic's?

In our FP, I ran a gas line to it so I start all of my fires w gas, & once the wood is burning well, I turn the gas off. The gas-burner is in center of the fireplace, so I'll just move the grate back some & try to position it where the wood is farest back as possible, and I'll start w smaller amts of wood. Once I do all of the above & get a fire going, I'll post back the results. I'll also remove the soot from hearth so I can start w a clean front to detect if any smoke does stain the stone.

As stated previously, I really do appreciate everyone's help & feedback. You guys on this forum have never steered me wrong.

Have a safe & happy new yr to all,

Pls note I'm responding from my smart ph & did not proof ;)
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"I'm buildin' a couple steel fireplaces now from propane tank ends welded together into a ball, sittin' on ole asphalt paver axles lain on their side,...". I'm not sure I follow you you have some pic's?
Ayuh,.... My fireplaces ain't gonna help yer fireplace, but I'll try to get some pictures up later today,....

Can you post some pictures of yer fire box, especially the top of it, 'n how it goes from fire box to the flue,..??
Ya might need to add a lip to the outer edge just inside to direct the smoke up, 'n out, rather than out the hearth,...
Not really a fireplace or fire-pit type of person. However, I saw a TV news segment on the fire-pits at the link below and some of them fascinated me. I suspect Bondo is doing something along the lines of the globe.!/
Gray, thanks for the link - the earth ones looked pretty cool...

Bondo, I'll try to get some pics to you on the fire box/damper opening are constructed...I appreciate everyone's follow-up.

Ayuh,.... This is gonna hopefully resemble Grapes when I get 'er done,...

The smoke pipe goes up that 20lb tank on the top, there'll be 2 more tanks when done,... 3 high,...

There'll also be random 20lb tanks tacked to the sides of the ball, 'n twisted up rebar for some vines,...
Might even cut some leaves outa tin,...

As you can see, it rotates,....
The base is very stable, an ole paver axles, lain over with the wheel,....

I've got one more ball left, for My water-side patio fireplace,....
Gonna be 10" taller than this one, got a big 22" super single truck wheel outa the scrap pile,....

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They're certainly not the best fires for putting off radiant heat, but I've found that "tipi" fires are the best for outdoor fireplaces. Once you get the chimney hot, assuming it's tall enough to draft strong, you can generally knock the tipi dowm and burn horizantally again. Usually, by the time it's hot enough, I'm ready for bed though............
Quote by Jomama45 "....Usually, by the time it's hot enough, I'm ready for bed though......."

ROFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL I know exactly what you mean !!! I cannot tell you how many times that fire gets just right and by then I'm all smoked out and tired, I'm ready to fall over asleep.

Bondo, I did envision what you said on the 2 propane tanks being cut and welded, it was the bottom that threw me looks like it's perched on top of a car tire rim. If you can heat up that steel to orange color, that baby would be heating up well. I got my WB Stove up to 1700F one time and the top was getting orange...only did that one time though.
Sounds like you have a really nice outside room. Something like those of us in northeast can only dream of. There are some potentially good ideas expressed in this thread.

Ultimately my house is where I live and I am comfortable. It may not always look pristine but it is always home.

I tried some water and beach [5:1 or 6:1 ratio] and w gloves, plastic hand brush and PPE, I was able to remove almost all of the stain [I cannot tell if it is all gone until it dries bc the wet part us a little darker]. I also protected the stone flr and metal screen from the dripping solution. I did hit a darker part of the stone [maybe some iron] and it spread over the white stone, but I took a wet cloth and removed a good amt of it. I think w a small wire brush and the extended suction like of a vacuum, I can brush away this part and make it look new again.

Finally, I am going to take the advise of starting a smaller fire in the back and get her burning, then add more wood slowly. If she gets stained again, then I am going to clean it up one last time and seal it with something that will prevent permeation but only a qk wipe-up. Someone suggested a material and I will check out that product.

Thanks again,
Hi tstex.
I haven't seen your fireplace as yet, but I'll give you a little different explanation of drafting to chew on as you contemplate way to keep the smoke in the firebox.

Open front, firebox, and chimney opening somewhere above the fire. The first thing to understand is the old phrase "hot air rises" isn't exactly correct. Yes we often see it going up, but it does not do so by itself. It is the greater atmospheric pressure of the cooler air in front of that fire that pushes on the hot air. That air has two choices, push against the cold air in the chimney or push out at the top of the fireplace opening where the atmospheric pressure is slightly lower than at the bottom. In your case you know what is does and until some of that warm air is moved up into the chimney it will struggle.

IF, the front of the fireplace had (I'll exaggerate) a 10" piece of metal covering the front/top area to block the smoke, it would be more inclined to push against the cold air in the chimney and be more successful at maintaining a draft.

To that end, if you make a valance, better looking than a 10" piece of metal, that is positioned at the top and extends several inches to the front it would improve the draft.

I have seen similar for sale so you might be able to get some ideas searching.

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Those look great Bondo, Ayuh :thumbup::thumbup:
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