Having a nasty smell coming from your chimney is NOT something you want to wake up to on a warm summer day. Even when you aren’t using it, your chimney can cause your house to smell. The main culprit is usually creosote buildup, but there are a few things to consider when it comes to foul chimney odors.
Different Types of Chimney Odor
Most chimney odor simply smells a bit like smoke. That’s because the smoke leaving your chimney causes buildup of creosote and soot over time. This residue will have a tendency to buildup faster if you use woods in your chimney that don’t burn as well.
To delay creosote buildup in your chimney, it’s always best to stick to well-seasoned hard woods. But even when using the right kinds of firewood, your chimney will still need a cleaning from time to time.
Apart from creosote and soot buildup, however, there are things that can cause your chimney to smell bad. And in some cases it won’t smell like smoke at all.
Cases where your chimney might smell bad for reasons other than creosote buildup include:
- Mold: This isn’t a problem that should normally be present in chimneys, but if your chimney smells moldy, it might be because you have a roof leak. The wetness of the leak creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow in your chimney. This problem can be fixed by having your roof checked. Only once the leak is fixed, have your chimney cleaned. After all, there’s no use in cleaning your chimney without fixing the underlying problem first.
- Animals: There are precautions you can take to keep animals out of your chimney. However, homeowners often don’t realize how easily animals try to get into the home through a chimney. Birds also like to make their nests there. If the smell coming from your chimney smells more like animal scats, there’s a good chance you’ve got guests. Unfortunately, animals also get stuck in the chimney occasionally, meaning that if your chimney smells like something died in there, that might very well be the case.
- Debris: Once again, there are ways to keep leaves and other debris from entering your chimney, but many homeowners don’t know about this. Once again, this can smell moldy, rotten or perhaps even as if an animal died in your chimney.
Those are the main chimney odor problems you can expect that don’t have anything to do with creosote buildup. However, by keeping your chimney safer, even these problems can be eliminated.
It’s worthwhile to mention that keeping your chimney as dry as possible can go a long way in preventing bad odors. Anything from debris to creosote will smell worse if it gets wet.
The best way to fix your chimney odor problems is by first identifying the cause. You can do this by calling a professional chimney sweep to do an inspection. Here at Chimney Sweeps West, we have many years of experience in helping our customers fix and prevent chimney problems, so be sure to call us if you’re in Knoxville and you need help with your chimney.
How to Prevent Chimney Odor
Preventing chimney odor is actually surprisingly easy. One of the first things you can do to prevent bad odors from entering your home through your fireplace is to ensure that your chimney stays clean. You can do this by having you chimney cleaned and inspected once a year, preferably before winter so you know that it’s safe to use before making a fire.
Apart from this, you should do your best to keep debris and animals out of your chimney. Anything that gets into your chimney is not only likely to cause bad chimney odors, it’s also a fire hazard. Debris or bird’s nests in your chimney can light on fire easily, causing a problem that’s way worse than just a foul smell.
To prevent anything from getting into your chimney, you should have a proper chimney cap installed. The chimney cap will prevent some debris from getting into your chimney, but more importantly, it’s meant to keep water out. Keeping water out of your chimney will help so that any creosote buildup that might be present doesn’t get wet. This helps mainly because creosote smells worse when it’s wet. Apart from that, the cap will help keep water out to prevent mold from growing in your chimney.
To keep animals out, you should go for a chimney cap with a net.
What if My Chimney Still Smells?
Your chimney might smell because of drafts coming into your home through the chimney. Ideally, air should actually move out of your home through the chimney rather than entering your home. But sometimes the drafts don’t flow right, causing air to enter your home through the chimney.
Keeping the windows open might help for this problem somewhat. Other than that, having your chimney cleaned regularly can help a lot for this problem too.
If you recently repainted your burning stove, allowing the fireplace to burn for short intervals of time while keeping the windows open can help with chimney odors. Freshly painted or polished burning stoves have a tendency to smell rather bad for a while after being repainted, which might be another cause of foul odors from your fireplace.