If you used your fireplace all winter long, you’re probably ready to ignore it for the summer. You can absolutely forget the fireplace and chimney system for the off-season as long as you had your routine maintenance completed in the spring. If not, your fireplace may present some problems this summer, and some of them—like stinky odors—can not be ignored. Not only are odors a big bother, but they almost always indicate a big problem with the chimney system.
Three Common Chimney Odors
There are three common chimney odors that homeowners notice the most. At Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service, we periodically get calls from homeowners at their wit’s end, trying to freshen up the air in their home, to no avail. When the chimney is one of the largest systems in the home and it is the problem, it can be difficult to correct it without help from a chimney professional.
This may be minor, where you can’t quite figure out where the smell comes from, or it can be so strong that it smells as if there’s a dirty barbecue grill sitting next to you on the couch. No matter how bad the smell is, it is caused by a dirty chimney. The soot and creosote produced when your fire burns also coat the entire chimney system all winter long. When the chimney isn’t cleaned at the end of burn season, air pressure (especially during certain types of weather) can push the air through your chimney and into your home. The stinky odors come with it!
The Problem: Soot, creosote, and ashes left in the fireplace, stove, and flue.
The Solution: A chimney sweep with a certified chimney professional.
It may take you a while to recognize this odor as coming from your chimney. Mold and mildew odors can often be caused from leaks throughout the home, including ceilings and walls, even cabinets under the sinks, as well as ductwork and more. If you notice that these odors are coming from your fireplace, it is never a good sign. It is likely that there is a chimney leak and one that has existed long enough to allow bacterial growth. There is likely significant chimney damage caused by water and hazards that will put your family at risk this winter.
The Problem: Water penetrating the masonry, cap, crown, flashing, etc.
The Solution: A diagnostic inspection with a certified chimney professional.
You may think you have a dead mouse in a wall or in the back of a closet, but these foul odors may be coming from your fireplace! It isn’t always a dead animal that produces these nasty odors. Every living thing produces gases and odors when they decompose. This includes unburned wood, leaves, feathers, fur, and more. Anything left in the chimney can create these odors.
The Problem: Debris left in the chimney system.
The Solution: A chimney sweep with a certified professional or possible animal removal.
No matter how long your fireplace has been stinking you out of house and home, it is time to take care of it. Now is the best time to have your chimney serviced, eradicating the odors, and ensuring it’s ready for fires again this fall.