Why Does My Fireplace Still Smell?

By: Tim McGirl

Avoiding Smoky Chimney Smells

Wood burning fireplaces can leave your house with smoky smells even a few days after burning. You might have shut the glass doors on your fireplace immediately after using the fireplace but the chimney odors still remain lingering in your living room. If the smoky chimney smells persist despite removing the old ashes from the fireplace, there might be a couple of reasons of what could be causing the problem.


Creosote Buildup

Over time, burning wood in the fireplaces can result in the buildup of creosote in the chimney leading to acrid chimney odors. When this happens, you need to call in experienced chimney sweeps for chimney cleaning. For more information on the potential hazards of creosote build up, read this chimney safety article.


Negative Air Pressure In The House

Exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms suck air out of the house creating a negative pressure inside. The pressure is equalized by drawing in make-up air from the outside through random cracks and holes in the house structure and the easiest low resistance path is the down the chimney. This drafting can cause the combustion by-products to come down the chimney flue bringing in chimney odors into the house.

Gas and oil water heaters, furnaces, boilers, and electric and gas clothes dryers can also push air out of the house creating pressure imbalances. In order to correct the ventilation issue, provide a source of outside combustion air to your combustion appliances.

This can be overcome by placing a spring loaded, top mounted stainless steel damper on the fireplace flue. This damper can be controlled by a cable hanging inside the flue depending on when the fireplace is in use.


Chimney turns Cold

When chimneys are located on the exterior walls, they are exposed the outside air and become cold. This cold is transferred to the air inside the flue making it cold as well. Since cold air is denser, it descends inside the chimney and spreads into the house from the fireplace. The heavy air that sweeps down collects all the chimney odors and fills your living room with the smoky chimney smells.

You can light a bulb inside the chimney flue so that cold air at the base of the chimney heats up and rises out of the chimney. There are also certain air freshener-type products and candles that can consume the flue odors when placed in the fireplace firebox.

If you are facing severe cases of flue odor in the house, there are fans that can be mounted on top of the chimney. Perfect for chimney ventilation, these keep a low level of air moving upward through the flue. You can install a tight fitting glass fire-screen at the fireplace to prevent odors coming into the house. Chimney cleaning should be carried out every year with the help of professional chimney sweeps. There might be a fault in your chimney and the odor might be coming from a leak higher in the chimney. Professional chimney experts will help sort out the issue and keep smoky fireplace smells at bay!

Click here to schedule an appointment with a chimney expert today!

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