Diagnosing Chimney Odors

Chimney Odors Image - Houston TX - Lords ChimneyA chimney odor is far more than an inconvenience; these smells often indicate a far bigger chimney problem. While it may be tempting to spray some air freshener and hope the problem goes away, chimney odors should be addressed by a chimney professional as soon as possible. By having chimney odors diagnosed and repaired your family can begin enjoying using your fireplace again.

What causes chimney odors?

Whether it’s barely noticeable or overwhelming strong, chimney odors can affect your ability to live in your home. Unfortunately, there is no one single cause of chimney odors; chimneys odors are often the symptom of a bigger chimney problem. Because of this, a professional chimney inspection is often needed in order to uncover the cause of the smell. The following are three common causes of chimney odors.

  • Animal entry: Animals not only cause sharp, strong, rotting smells; wild animals from the smallest birds to the largest raccoons can all damage your chimney. If you hear scurrying, scratching, or crying coming from within your chimney, it is important to call a wildlife removal specialist or experienced chimney sweep as soon as possible. Nesting materials, food, droppings, or the bodies of dead animals can all cause extremely unpleasant odors, as well as the risk of exposure to bacteria and pests carried by the animals.

Many animals enter the chimney only to become trapped; removing them as soon as possible can reduce damage to the chimney, minimize the chance of chimney odors developing, and give the animal the best chance for survival. Homeowners should never attempt to smoke out trapped animals by starting a fire; not only does opening the damper give the animal access to your home, but the smoke and heat will kill most animals before they have the chance to escape.

  • Creosote: An excessive buildup of creosote in the flue causes sharp, smoky odors. These smells are often most noticeable during the hot and humid months of summer as well as when the air conditioning is being used. Getting rid of creosote odor is as easy as getting rid of the creosote; an annual chimney sweeping can remove creosote and make your chimney safer – and less smelly.
  • Water entry: A chimney leak can damage your interior and exterior masonry and fireplace components – as well as cause a dank, musty, damp odor. These odors are often caused when water from an unrepaired or undetected chimney leak is not removed. The cool, dark confines of the chimney create ideal conditions for the growth of mold and mildew; not only can this cause unbearable odors, but it can also negatively affect your home’s air quality. Children, the elderly, and those with breathing problems such as allergies and asthma are particularly affected by mold growth in the chimney.

Chimney odors can affect your ability to enjoy your fireplace. By having the smells diagnosed and the cause repaired, you can get back to enjoying your fireplace faster. For more information on diagnosing chimney odors or to schedule a chimney inspection, contact Lords Chimney today.

Stinky Chimneys

Nothing can spoil a quiet evening spent in front of the fireplace quite like chimney odor. Unfortunately, chimney odors can also occur when the fireplace is not in use, leaving many homeowners scratching their heads as to what is causing their stinky chimney.

Chimney odors should never be ignored and are often the sign of a more serious chimney problem. Because of this, it is important to have a certified professional evaluate your chimney in order to uncover the source of the chimney odor and repair the source to keep it from coming back.

Causes of chimney odor

There is no one cause of chimney odor; because of this, it often takes the combination of a certified chimney professional and a chimney inspection to uncover the source of the odor. Below are some of the most common sources of chimney odor, what causes them, and how they can be prevented.

Water entry

  • Type of odor: Musty or damp odor that may be more noticeable after a rain storm. Long term exposure to moisture in the chimney can cause mold or mildew growth; in addition to creating a round-the-clock odor, mold growth can also affect the air supply in your home, especially for those with respiratory issues such as allergies or asthma.
  • Cause: While water can get into your chimney system in a number of ways, it most commonly comes in from a damaged chimney cap. In addition to protecting the chimney from moisture, chimney caps also keep debris and animals out of the chimney. Likewise, cracks or holes in the masonry can also cause water to enter the chimney system.
  • Signs of water entry: Using a flashlight, look in your firebox or the lower portion of the chimney for signs of moisture or water. Likewise, from the ground look for any evidence that the chimney is cracked or otherwise damaged.


  • Type of odor: Sharp, smoky odor. Creosote smells are often worst during the hot and humid summer months.
  • Cause: Creosote is a naturally occurring byproduct of fuel-burning fires, but is most prevalent with wood burning fires. Tarry creosote can coat the inside of the chimney flue and leave you at increased risk for chimney fire. Annual chimney sweeping removes creosote – as well as the odors that can accompany it.
  • Other causes of smoky odors: Your smoky chimney odor may also indicate an air pressure problem; outside air flows down the chimney and into your home, bringing chimney odors with it. An improperly fitting damper or the installation of a new HVAC system can cause pressure imbalances.

AnimalsStinky Chimney - Houston TX - Lords Chimney

  • Type of odor: Sharp, foul, rotting odor.
  • Cause: A sudden rotting smell almost always indicates the presence of an animal or animal droppings in the chimney. Animals can find their way in through a damaged or missing chimney cap or other surrounding masonry damage on the top of the chimney.
  • Getting animals out: Wild animals should ways be treated with caution and should only be removed by a professional. Likewise, it is important to never “smoke out” a trapped animal; rather than getting out of the chimney, many animals become disoriented or injured by the smoke and heat.

Stop dealing with foul odors coming from your fireplace. Contact Lords Chimney and let a certified professional inspect your chimney and start enjoying your heating appliance once more.

Getting a Head Start on Chimney Service

If you have a chimney, you should have it inspected and cleaned annually in order to prevent fires and make sure it is running efficiently. When your chimney is not cleaned, a highly flammable substance called creosote builds up. Creosote can cause chimney fires and block ventilation, allowing hazardous toxins to enter your home. The professionals at Lords Chimney can inspect and clean your chimney to ensure safety and efficient fires for your home.


Lords Chimney, like any chimney servicing company, is very busy between September and March, especially in the winter months. Therefore, the best thing to do is to get a head start on chimney service before it gets cold and service appointments get backed up. You can do this by scheduling an appointment during Lords Chimney’s  less busy months between April and August. Not only will you better be able to get an appointment that fits your schedule, but you will be ready for winter when it hits.

When a professional from Lords Chimney arrives, he or she will be checking to make sure your appliance is properly installed, your appliance and flue are compatible, there are no missing components of your chimney, you are using a fuel compatible with your chimney, you don’t have creosote build up, you do not have water damage, and that there are no blockages in your flue. The technician will also write you a report explain the chimney’s condition and will inform you of any potential problems you should be aware of and have fixed.

The technician from Lords Chimney will start the inspection by first looking at the inside of your chimney. He or she will then go on your roof and inspect that portion of your chimney. Next, the technician will cover your floor for protection before using video equipment to take a closer look at your flue, helping to determine whether your flue needs a cleaning and whether it has cracks. He or she will then clean the flue and chimney if needed. You will then receive the written report and the technician will clean up.

Lords Chimney also provides three levels of chimney inspections. The first level is a visual examination to search for deterioration and structural soundness as well as to check for other problems noticeable to a well trained eye. The second level uses a camera to get a more detailed look at your chimney and any problems it might have. A second level inspection should be performed after a fire or natural disaster, before ownership of a property is changed, and before you make changes to your heating system. The third level of inspection is rarely used, as it is only needed when a problem is found in a level one or two inspection that cannot be easily solved. A third level inspection requires portions of the chimney to be removed to check concealed areas of the chimney.

Call Lords Chimney as soon as possible to prepare for winter and guarantee yourself a clean and safe chimney!