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My Fireplace Smells!

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Don’t Panic, These Chimney Odors Are Normal

Nothing ruins an evening by the fireplace like a strange smell suddenly coming out of the chimney. It is natural for homeowners to immediately imagine a dangerous chimney fire and to be concerned about what the odor signifies. Although some chimney smells are a sign of trouble, there are a few that are perfectly normal. The important thing is knowing the difference and knowing what to do if there is a potential issue. A certified sweep can identify the origin of the smell and assist you in deciding next steps.

Chimney odors are not uncommon. Some are a natural by-product of burning and some require immediate attention. A certified sweep can help you decide what you are dealing with.

Chimney odors are not uncommon. Some are a natural by-product of burning and some require immediate attention. A certified sweep can help you decide what you are dealing with.

When a fireplace is used frequently over a short period of time, it is normal for ash to build up in the flue and fireplace. As such, it is likely that the family will smell ash coming from the chimney when there is a fire burning. Although this smell is nothing to worry about, there are many people who find it to be very unpleasant. If this is the case, cleaning most of the ash out of the fireplace and leaving just a small amount behind for insulation can help it.

Of course, it is completely likely that a chimney may smell a bit of smoke when there is a fire burning. This is not a problem as long as the smoke is leaving the chimney through the flue and not entering the home. In fact, this smell is a comfort to many people and one that they associate with cozy nights curled up by the fire. As long as the smoke is not dense and overwhelming, it should not turn into a serious issue.

Although some chimney odors are perfectly normal and safe, it is important to keep in mind that a well-maintained chimney will not typically have a distinctive odor. In many cases, chimney odors are caused by problematic issues such as a build up of creosote in the chimney or debris from animals that have made their homes there. If the smell is unusual or seems to appear suddenly, it is likely not as harmless as it may seem.

Just as many homeowners panic at the first smell coming from their chimney, others do not think that any smell at all is cause for concern. If the smell becomes heavy or seems similar to an intense burning, it is necessary to get help. This may be a sign of a dangerous fire starting in the chimney or of dangerous chemicals accumulating in the flue. If this is the case, homeowners should stop using their fireplaces until a certified sweep has inspected it.

One of the best ways to avoid problems with chimney odors is to properly maintain the chimney in the first place. Even if there is no evident sign of trouble, every chimney should be inspected each year. The Chimney Institute of America has a directory of qualified chimney technicians who have completed the organization’s training program. These inspections, paired with professional cleanings, will keep the chimney in good working condition and should eliminate all odors.

With any fireplace, a small amount of odor coming from the chimney is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. In many cases, it is just built up ash or a normal amount of smoke in the chimney. However, if the smell becomes overwhelming, it is important to have it checked out by a professional inspector and cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep. Completing this bit of maintenance annually can help avoid a number of problems down the line.