Unveiling the Mystery: Why Does My Chimney Smell?

June 18, 2023
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Why Does My Chimney Smell

Chimneys are one of the most important parts of your home, especially during winter. While you are enjoying the warmth of your furnace, it’s the chimneys that keep you safe by releasing all the smoke and ash outside. But sometimes these chimneys can smell bad, leading you to ask yourself “Why does my chimney smell?”

There are quite a few reasons for your chimney smelling. The most common reason for a smell coming out of your chimney is creosote buildup. The negative pressure inside your home can also cause the chimney to smell. Furthermore, if you have pests inside your chimney, it will have a foul odor. Finally, if your chimney has any moisture damage, it will smell. 

Now, let’s dive deeper into the causes due to which your chimney smells. 

Why do I have a chimney smell in the house?

Since chimneys take out the smoke and ash that are produced from your fireplace, they play an integral part in your comfort during winter. But a lack of regular maintenance can lead them to be a source of discomfort. One such instance is when these chimneys and fireplaces start to smell incredibly bad.

So if you feel like, “ Why my fireplace smells?”, here are the potential reasons.

1. Creosote buildup

creosote in the chimney

Nothing causes the chimney to smell more than a huge build-up of creosote inside it. When you burn wood in your fireplace, it produces creosote. This creosote keeps depositing on the inside walls of the chimney, and there is nothing you can do to prevent that, and the only way to deal with them is to clean your chimneys regularly.

If you don’t do so, the layer of creosote in the chimney will continue to thicken. Creosote smells like asphalt or tar, so if your house smells smoky after fireplace use, chances are your chimney is full of creosote that needs to be cleaned as soon as possible.

2. Negative pressure inside the house

Another common reason for chimneys smelling bad is the negative pressure you have in your home. All modern homes are sealed tight so that you don’t lose too much heat during winter. This creates a negative pressure inside your chimney, and the fireplace smells like smoke in summer.

Since drafts continue to reverse in your chimney, it carries a bad smell into the home from outside. And since your home is tightly sealed, the smell has nowhere to go, causing the home to reek. The best and easiest solution to this is to open a window until the smell goes away. 

3. Presence of pests

It’s no secret that the inside of the chimney is quite warm. And since birds, rats and other animals have no protection from the cold in the winter, they are attracted to these chimneys as a place to take refuge. 

When these animals enter the chimney, they eat, excrete, nest, reproduce and die there. All of these can create horrible smells that will eventually come down to your home. When that happens, your home will reek of dead bodies, animal excretion, and whatnot. 

You can install a mesh-netting chimney cap on your chimney. This will allow the chimney to function perfectly without letting anything in. 

4. Moisture Damage

chimney damaged by moisture

This is one of the reasons your fireplace smells when it rains and also one of the most costly types of damage your chimney is going to suffer. Your chimney can suffer moisture damage in two ways. First, and the most common way for chimneys to get damaged by moisture is when water leaks inside them. This happens when rainwater gets into the chimney due to a lack of a chimney cap.

Another way for chimneys to get moisture damage is when the wood you are burning in the fireplace is damp. As a result of these, the chimney flue lining can be seriously damaged, which will need to be replaced as soon as possible.

You will have a musty chimney smell in the house due to this reason, which in no way, is a good smell to have in your home. 

5. Branches and leaves

absence of a chimney cap

Another reason for the chimney to smell due to an absence of a chimney cap is when branches and leaves from a nearby tree get into it. After some time, these leaves, twigs, and branches start to rot. This creates a smell that wafts around your home, and trust us, that is not a smell you want in your home.

You can easily deal with this issue by installing a chimney cap or cutting off the branches directly over or near your chimney. 

Final Words

When we provide our premium quality chimney cleaning service, one of the most common queries we face is ‘Why does my chimney smell?’. If you go through our list and find any symptom that is similar to what we have just mentioned, call us and book our services as soon as possible. 


Is Creosote Dangerous?

Yes, creosote does a lot more damage than just making your house stink. It weakens your chimney, and is a fire hazard, because of being highly flammable.

How long does chimney cleaning take?

Chimney cleaning is a surprisingly quick procedure. Depending on factors such as the weather, the scope of work, etc, generally your chimney sweep take an hour or two.

How often should I get my chimney swept?

You should get your chimney swept before or after every winter. So this means you have to hire a chimney cleaning service to clean your chimney once per year.

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