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Why Does My Chimney Smell?

Fireplaces are beautiful centerpieces that give warmth and add ambiance; however, many homeowners notice unpleasant chimney odors that can stink up the entire house. Let’s look at what causes chimney odors and what you can do to prevent them.

Professional Chimney Sweeping in Aiken SCCreosote Buildup

The number one cause of chimney odors is creosote. Creosote is a sticky, tar-like substance that results from burning wood. As the smoke rises up the chimney, it cools and condenses, forming creosote. Over time, the buildup can thicken and give off a pungent, rancid odor that makes your home smell like an ashtray. Not only that, but creosote is highly flammable.

The best way to prevent creosote buildup is to hire a professional chimney sweep for annual cleaning and inspection and use seasoned firewood to reduce the smoke and creosote.

Water Leaks and Moisture

If you notice a damp, musty odor from the chimney, it typically means water is getting into your chimney. Water and moisture occur for various reasons, including a damaged chimney cap, deteriorating mortar joints, or a cracked crown. When water mixes with creosote, it intensifies the odor and can lead to mold and mildew growth. 

The solution for musty odors is to install a chimney cap to keep the rain out and to regularly inspect the structure for cracked bricks and missing mortar. If you find cracks or damaged mortar, fix it as quickly as possible to reduce the chance of odors.

Animal Intruders

It’s not uncommon for animals like birds, raccoons, or squirrels to nest in your chimney; they’re attracted to the warmth and shelter. Sometimes, animals get trapped and die. Beyond the sad outcome for our furry friend, this can lead to an unpleasant odor. 

Like other solutions on our list, the best way to prevent animals from getting into the chimney is to install a chimney cap, particularly one with mesh siding, to prevent critters from entering and getting stuck. 

Negative Air Pressure

Your home is designed to have a specific airflow. Modern homes, however, are more airtight than older homes, and certain appliances like kitchen exhaust fans or HVAC systems can create negative air pressure. The negative pressure can pull air down the chimney and the smalls that come with it, especially if you’ve not burned a fire for a few days. 

To prevent negative air pressure, make sure your home is well-ventilated. You can crack open a window or door to balance air pressure or use a chimney draft inducer to draw air in and up the chimney. 

Preventative Maintenance to Reduce Chimney Odor

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s true when it comes to chimney odors. Here are a few maintenance tips that will help.

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Regular Maintenance

It can’t be stressed enough that the best way to prevent chimney odors and other problems is to hire a professional service for regular inspection and maintenance to nip minor issues in the bud before they become a problem.

Routine Cleaning

Scheduling annual or bi-annual cleaning to remove creosote, soot, and blockages will reduce chimney odor and the chance of fire.

Install a Cap

Install a chimney cap or screen to keep out rain, animals, and debris. Moisture and animal nesting materials contribute to a foul-smelling chimney, and a cap can prevent this. 

Use Seasoned Firewood

As mentioned above, burning green or unseasoned firewood can lead to excessive creosote buildup and musty odors. Always use seasoned firewood for cleaner burning and don’t burn trash or items made from plastic. 

Call the Chimney Experts at Advanced Chimney Sweep

Advanced Chimney Sweep is a family-owned and operated chimney and fireplace service company proudly serving Georgia and South Carolina residents. We’re the experts to call whether you need chimney cleaning, repairs, maintenance, rebuilding, or anything in between. Book your appointment now. In Georgia, call 706-833-4630. In South Carolina, call 803-508-3990.