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5 Answers to the Question: Why Does my Fireplace Stink?

Smelly FireplaceThere is much to enjoy about a fireplace, and for some people it’s the fragrance of certain types of logs as they burn.  There are times, however, when the smells coming from a fireplace are unwelcome and downright unpleasant.   When a professional chimney technician cleans and inspects your chimney, most of the issues which cause smelly odors are resolved.  Below are the most common reasons bad smells emit from fireplaces in Northeast Iowa, Northwest Illinois, and Southwest Wisconsin plus possible solutions to the problems:

1-  Creosote and Soot Deposits

Creosote and soot are deposited in chimney flues whenever combustible materials are burned.  Both substances are flammable.  Creosote is tar-like, and soot is flaky or powdery.  If buildup of creosote and soot occurs, your fireplace can begin to smell like unappetizing barbeque or asphalt.

All deposits are removed from the chimney flue when the chimney is cleaned by a professional chimney sweep.

2- Animals

The openings of chimney tops are frequently used by animals, birds, and reptiles to access homes.  Most of the time, animals get in but can’t get out.  They leave droppings, which can create a smell, or die, which can create a powerfully horrendous smell.  If a raccoon, snake, bird, or other animal gets into your chimney, it would be best to let a professional chimney sweep deal with the Chimney Swiftsituation, since they have training and experience with this kind of dilemma.  Wild animals can bite and can carry disease.

There is a bird called a Chimney Swift which is protected by the federal government and nests in chimneys.  It’s against the law to interfere with these birds.  So if Chimney Swifts decide to nest in your chimney, you will have to put up with chirping and bird droppings for a while.  They will move on before too long, and the best thing to do at that time is get a chimney cap installed.  Otherwise, you can expect another visit in a year.  Some people don’t want to mess with Mother Nature but they don’t want birds in their chimneys, either; what they do is install a tall fake chimney in their yard that is designed just for Chimney Swifts.

3 –Moisture

If the nasty smell coming from your fireplace is musty, it could be a sign that excess moisture is in your chimney system.  Besides causing a bad odor when it mixes with creosote in the flue, moisture can cause all sorts of serious damage to your chimney.  It can also cause the damper to rust and function improperly.  Contact our chimney professionals, who will determine the cause of the problem and provide needed chimney repairs.

4 –Debris

Chimney Cap
Chimney caps help keep debris out of your chimney and can prevent smelly odors from forming.

Another problem that can be prevented by installing a chimney cap is that leaves and other debris can fall into the chimney.  If leaves collect in the chimney, they can decompose and begin to smell like rot.

5- Negative Air Pressure

And, finally, a leading cause of smelly fireplaces in Southwest Wisconsin, Northeast Iowa, and Northwest Illinoisis negative air pressure.  This problem usually starts up after home improvements have been made, such as weatherizing or changing the venting system.  If a home is too tightly sealed, even mild odors in the chimney can drift into the home instead of out through the chimney.

Contact our chimney professionals for an inspection and repairs that will put a stop to the foul smells coming from your fireplace.

For your Fireplace, Stove, Patio or Chimney needs
please call one of our Sponsoring Businesses.

Chimney Specialists, Inc
869 Main Street, Highland, WI 53543
(608) 929-4887

Dubuque Fireplace & Patio
925 Century Drive, Dubuque, IA 52002
(563) 582-5156

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