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What IS That Smell?

Is There a Strange Odor Coming from Your Chimney?

Having a chimney and fireplace is a great perk in any home, especially when the winter weather starts to make nights chilly. However, many families quickly stop enjoying their fireplaces when strange smells start coming from their chimneys. There are many different things that can cause chimney odors and knowing the cause is often the key to solving the problem. A certified sweep can help identify the cause during a cleaning and inspection.

Some odors coming from your fireplace are no cause for concern, but other indicate a serious issue. A certified sweep can help you figure out the difference.

Some odors coming from your fireplace are no cause for concern, but other indicate a serious issue. A certified sweep can help you figure out the difference.

The first thing every homeowner should keep in mind is that a bit of odor coming from the chimney is completely normal. When treated material, such as wood or coal, is burned in the fireplace, there is going to be a bit of a smell that lingers. However, if the smell is very heavy, accompanied by thick smoke or especially unpleasant, it may be the sign of a problem. Anyone who is unsure should have the issue checked into just to be on the safe side.

One very common cause of chimney odor is a family of animals setting up their home inside of the chimney. There are many species of bird that commonly live in chimneys, such as chimney swifts. However, there are also many small animals and rodents that have been known to set up camp in a chimney. The animals themselves could be the cause of the smell, or it might be their waste and nest debris.

Another common reason that families experience chimney odors is if there are leaves and other plant life rotting in their chimney. Plant material, combined with water from rain or snow, can create a very unpleasant odor that will smell like something dying or rotting. This problem, along with the issue of animal invaders, can be solved very simply. Just install a chimney cap to keep animals, leaves, and unwanted water out of the chimney and the fireplace.

Anyone who burns treated wood and coal in their fireplace will have a chemical combination known as creosote left behind. If the excess creosote is not cleaned on a regular basis, it will eventually cause an odor that spreads throughout the home. Not only does it smell bad, but creosote can cause a variety of different ailments for anyone who comes into contact with it. If creosote seems to be the problem, it should be addressed immediately, before the fireplace is used again.

In some cases, the fireplace smells bad simply because it is in need of a good, thorough cleaning. Over time, the accumulation of ash and other material will start to smell. This is why it is recommended that a professional chimney sweep service the chimney each year, either at the start or the end of the cold weather season. Homeowners may be tempted to clean their own chimneys, but this can be extremely dangerous as well as difficult to do properly for someone without the correct training.

Strange and unpleasant smells coming from the fireplace can quickly end the cozy atmosphere in front of the fireplace. However, in many cases, the solution is simple and just involves a quick addition to the chimney or a good cleaning. If it seems like the problem may be connected to a buildup of creosote, it should be addressed by a professional chimney sweep as quickly as possible. In fact, homeowners should never try to clean their chimneys on their own because it can be extremely dangerous.