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Does Your Chimney Stink?

Fireplaces often become the center of our homes, creating inviting living spaces for friends and family to gather. However, if you have a stinky chimney it may be difficult to enjoy your fireplace, even to the point of affecting the air quality in your home.

If you have a strange or foul odor coming from your chimney, it may be time to have it professionally inspected. In addition to making your home stink, a chimney odor is often indicative of a larger fireplace or chimney issue.


What causes chimney odor?

Because they can be caused by a number of different things, finding the cause of a chimney odor can sometimes be difficult. However, discovering and repairing the underlying cause of your chimney odor is the only surefire way to keep it from coming back or getting worse.

Below are some of the most common causes of chimney odors.

Animal entry: Many homeowners first recognize the presence of an animal in their chimney by sound, not smell. However, animals in the chimney can create a whole host of chimney problems – as well as odors.

If you have an animal such as a bird, squirrel, raccoon, or other small mammal in your chimney – even for a short time – their droppings, nesting materials, or food can all cause chimney odors. Likewise, left in the chimney this can expose your family to bacteria or parasites carried by the animals, cause chimney blockages, or even promote the growth of mold or mildew. Likewise, if a trapped animal dies in the chimney shaft the smell caused by decay can leave your home unlivable.

Creosote: When wood is allowed to smolder or burn at low temperatures for long periods of time, creosote can build up in the flue. Likewise, excessive creosote buildup is more likely to occur when green or improperly seasoned firewood is regularly used. Creosote often causes a smoky or dirty smell that is more noticeable during hot or humid conditions. New chimney odors during the summer months are often the result of creosote buildup.

Improper drafting: If your chimney is not drafting correctly, it can leave your home with a smoky smell even when the fireplace is not in use. Draft problems are most often caused by an improperly sized flue and will often have other symptoms besides odor, such as smoke blowing back into the room when the fireplace is being used. If your flue is correctly sized, this smoky odor may also be caused by not completely opening the damper the entire time the fireplace is in use.

Water: Water can wreak havoc throughout your chimney system, damaging the interior and exterior parts of the chimney and fireplace. However, water entry from a chimney leak can also lead to mold growth in the chimney system. Mold in the chimney can produce overwhelmingly bad odors, affect air quality, and even cause breathing issues, especially for those with respiratory problems such as asthma.

A stinky chimney should never be ignored, as odor problems often do not resolve themselves on their own and continue to get worse over time. If you have a chimney odor, contact Guaranteed Chimney Service today to schedule an appointment. Our expert staff can diagnose the cause of your stinky chimney and get you back to enjoying your fireplace!