What causes chimney odors?


Summer’s heat and humidity have set in. Unfortunately, when temperatures and moisture rise, something else can set into your home: Chimney odors. Chimney odors that are absent in the winter can become obvious and strong in the summer. These odors can be distressing and embarrassing. No one wants a stinky home!

So what exactly is causing your chimney odor? It could be one of several things.

Creosote

Most people know creosote — the sticky, tar-like substance that forms in your chimney each time you burn a fire — as a fire risk. Creosote buildup is the primary reason we have our chimney’s swept each year. It is a way to reduce the risk of a chimney fire. Creosote buildup can have another effect, however. When humidity and high temperatures reach creosote in your chimney, it can fill your home with an acrid, burning smell.

Chimney leaks

A damp, musty smell can be an indicator that your chimney is leaking. Water making its way into your chimney over time can bring mold and mildew, and it can fill your home with an unpleasant, musty smell.

Animals

Animals and birds can make their way into your chimney, and they can bring foul smells with them. Some animals come into your chimney accidentally and can become trapped. Should they die within your chimney, you’ll be left with a horrible rotting smell. Meanwhile, animals that come and go can leave behind rotting nests and food or fecal waste that can cause your chimney and home to smell.

Debris

If you’re chimney isn’t properly covered with a caged-in chimney cap or a top-sealing damper, leaves and other debris could be making its way down your flue. If debris has built up in your chimney, it can begin to rot, filling your home with a moldy or compost-like smell.

Downdraft

In the end, if your chimney stinks and that odor is filling your home, you have a problem with your chimney draft. Chimney structures are meant to draw air up and out of your home. A smell being pulled into your home through your chimney indicates that air is flowing in the opposite direction. This can be caused by improper chimney construction or size, other appliances causing negative pressure in your home or the air-tight construction of your home.

We’re the chimney experts

If chimney odors are filling your home this summer, call the chimney experts at Total Chimney Care. We can sweep your chimney to clear away any odor-causing creosote, animals or debris. Also, we can inspect your chimney for any odor-causing leaks. Our certified chimney sweeps also can evaluate your chimney drafts and help make recommendations on fixing your chimney draft to ensure that air is flowing in the right direction and that future chimney odors won’t foul up the air within your home.