Diagnosing Chimney Smells

Fireplaces can make a beautiful addition to any home and can be used and enjoyed all year long. However, a stinky chimney can not only diminish your ability to enjoy your fireplace, but can also affect their air quality in your entire home.

Chimney odors are often indicative of a more serious chimney issue, and often do not resolve themselves on their own. However, discovering the cause of your smelly chimney is the first step to getting rid of the odor. Once the cause of the chimney smell is diagnosed, it can be repaired and you and your family can get back to enjoying your fireplace.

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Causes of chimney odors

There are a number of causes of chimney odors. Below are some of the most common causes of chimney odors.

Animals: Animals are extremely unwelcome guests in your chimney system. In addition to causing damage throughout the chimney system, birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals can also bring with them a whole host of chimney odors.

Sharp foul or rotting smells – especially when accompanied by clawing, scurrying, or other sounds of animal entry – are typically indicative of the presence of animals in the chimney. Animal droppings, food, and nesting materials can all cause chimney odors. Likewise, as many animals become trapped and die while in the chimney, their bodies can create serious odors. This not only affects your home’s air supply, but can also expose your family to a number of microbes, bugs, and bacteria.

Creosote: A sharp, smoky odor is often caused by creosote buildup. Odors caused by creosote are often particularly noticeable in the summer months. This kind of odor often indicates an air pressure problem within the house; this forces air down the chimney and into your home, carrying the creosote odor with it.

Regular chimney sweepings can reduce the amount of creosote in the chimney, significantly reducing this odor. Likewise, minimizing the negative air pressure in the home can also help end creosote odor.

Drafting: Similar to the smell caused by creosote, a smoky smell when the fireplace is not in use may be caused by a drafting issue. Likewise, drafting issues can also cause smoke to blow back into your home when the fireplace is being used, leaving the room – if not the whole house – with a vaguely smoky odor. An improperly sized flue or a damper that no longer works can allow smoke and air back into the home. A chimney inspection may be able to help diagnose and repair drafting issues.

Moisture: Musty, dank, or damp odors are often caused by water entry. Oftentimes, the smell is the only indicator that there is a leak somewhere in the chimney system. Because water can be an extremely damaging force in the chimney, it is important to have chimney leaks identified and repaired as soon as possible.

Another major concern caused by water in the chimney is the formation of mold and mildew. Mold can seriously impact the home’s air quality, creating an unbearable odor as well as creating respiratory issues for you and your family. Mold growth is especially rampant in chimneys that may have animal nesting material, leaves, or other debris in the flue.

If you have a stinky chimney, don’t wait for it to go away on its own. Contact Pristine Sweeps today and let our expert staff help solve your chimney odor issues!



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