Fireplaces add ambiance and atmosphere to our homes – but unpleasant odors or unidentifiable smells can affect indoor air quality. Chimney odors are often the symptom of a bigger chimney problem; resolving the underlying cause of the odor can help stop chimney smells and keep them from coming back.

Stinky, musty, or smelly fireplaces are not just something to endure or mask with air fresheners or scented candles. Identifying the cause of the chimney odor – and making any necessary repairs to prevent the smell from coming back – can allow you and your family to once again enjoy your fireplace.

What causes fireplace odors?fireplace burning wood

There is no definite cause of fireplace and chimney odors. Because of that, a chimney inspection by a certified chimney sweep is often needed to identify the underlying cause of fireplace smells. The following are a few of the most common fireplace odors – and what causes them.

– Musty, damp, or dank: Musty, damp, or dank are often the result of water entry. While chimney exteriors are built to withstand the elements, moisture can have a serious negative effect on delicate interior fireplace components. In addition to the musty odors and damage they can cause, a major concern when a chimney leak occurs is mold growth. In the flue, cool temperatures, lack of sunlight, and water are a perfect combination for mold and mildew growth; in addition to unbearable odors, mold growth can significantly impact the air quality in your home.

– Sharp, foul, or rotting: Sharp, foul, rotting smells – especially when accompanied by scurrying or scratching sounds – is caused by animal entry. Birds, squirrels, raccoons, roof rats, and many other animals view chimneys as a safe place to nest or hide from predators. Unfortunately, animal droppings, nesting materials, and food can build up and create seriously stinky smells. Homeowners should never attempt to smoke out an animal; instead, call a wildlife removal expert to safely and humanely remove the animal from the flue.

– Dusty or smoky: Dusty, smoky smells – when the fireplace is not in use – are often caused by creosote buildup. This kind of odor is often most noticeable during the summer months when heat and humidity most effect the creosote in the flue. Because creosote is extremely flammable, it is important to have the chimney swept at least once per year; in addition to removing creosote, a chimney sweeping removes any other soot, ash, or debris from the flue and helps the chimney draft safely and efficiently.

If you have a stinky fireplace, reach for the phone instead of the air freshener. At Coopertown Services, our expert crew of chimney professionals can help identify the root cause of chimney odors, make necessary repairs, and prevent smells from coming back. For more information on how chimney inspections can identify the cause of your fireplace odor – or to schedule your next appointment – contact us today!