A common occurrence, especially in the warm weather months, is a “smelly” fireplace. What do you do? What causes smell in my fireplace?

Three things must be present to produce this smell in your home.  Soot/ashes, moisture and a backward air flow.

Dry soot and ashes, by themselves, have no odor.  You must add moisture -and it doesn’t take much of it- to get an unpleasant smell. Look at your fireplace and chimney. Do you have a cap on the chimney? Is water getting into the chimney through the brick or mortar? Has the humidity been abnormally high recently? All of these things can moisten up the soot and ashes in your chimney and/or fireplace.

The other thing, that will ad to the smell, is the direction the air flows in your fireplace and chimney.  If the chimney is drafting properly (meaning the air is going out of the house and up the chimney) you won’t get that stink in your home.  That is because the smell is exiting the house up through the chimney.  If you are getting a back draft – even if it is slight – the smell will be in your living space.

The best fix for a smelly fireplace is to remove the soot/ashes and get rid of the moisture.  Advanced Chimneys can do the sweep, install a chimney cap and/or waterproof the chimney structure.  Once that is done you need to get the humidity out of the firebox and the chimney.  A product known as Damp-Rid is effective in dehumidifying small areas.  It is available at most grocery and hardware stores.  Place one tub in the firebox – as high as you can get it – and leave it there for a couple of weeks.

If you have a draft problem, it requires more study.  Call Advanced Chimneys for a thorough diagnosis.