What’s that Smell from My Fireplace?


What’s causing that smell that’s coming from your fireplace? Here are some possible causes and their solutions:

Negative Air Pressure

One of the leading reasons odors enter the home through a fireplace is negative air pressure in the home. When the home is sealed too tightly, even the mild odors common for chimneys escape into the home instead of up the chimney. Installing a top-sealing damper that is controlled by a metal chain that hangs down the chimney to the hearth and keeping it closed when the fireplace isn’t being used is one solution, as well as installing a glass fireplace screen.

Excess Creosote and Soot

Creosote is a black or dark brown flammable tar produced by wood smoke. Soot is produced by incomplete burning of organic matter such as wood; it is black and powdery or flaky and largely consists of amorphous carbon. Not only is removal of creosote important to keep your chimney in good working condition, but the buildup of creosote can increase the chance of chimney fires as well as making your fireplace smell bad. Regular professional cleaning will remove creosote and soot from the chimney.

Annual cleaning is recommended for a fireplace that is used 40 or more hours in the season.


If there is water in the chimney, it can cause an unpleasant musty odor. The best way to eliminate moisture in the chimney is by installing a chimney cap. Without a cap, naturally, rain water will get into the chimney. Besides causing an odor, moisture can cause the damper to rust and fail to operate properly.

Mixed with creosote, moisture can damage the flue lining, which results in the need for costly but necessary repairs.

Animals, Dead or Alive

It’s not uncommon for animals such a raccoons, birds, and snakes to access a home through the chimney, but animals usually can’t get back out. A chimney cap with mesh netting does a good job of keeping animals out of your chimney, but if you don’t have a chimney cap or the netting is damaged, any unpleasant smells coming out of your chimney could be animal scat or, even a decomposing animal. It’s dangerous to deal with a wild animal, since they could bite and may carry disease. Professional chimney sweeps are trained and equipped to deal with this dilemma.

You should be aware that the birds called chimney swifts are protected by federal law. The birds chirp, which is amplified in the chimney, and they leave droppings. They only stay for a short season, and then they move on. But anyone who has had these birds in their chimney once is well-advised to get a chimney cap, or they can count on the birds returning the next year. Leaves Leaves that fall and stay in the chimney can produce the smell of rot as they begin to decompose over time.

Other debris can also get in the chimney, which is just another reason a chimney cap is an excellent accessory and a good investment.

Schedule Top Hat Services to Invest in your home and health!

Households in the Austin – Taylor, TX metroplex area can call Top Hat  for professional cleaning. Call on us with your questions or concerns, or to reserve your appointment, at 512-352-0313, Mon.-Fri., 8AM-5PM.

Your home isn’t clean till it’s TOP HAT clean!

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