Whether it suddenly appears or starts small and builds, a stinky chimney can make your home unlivable. While air fresheners may mask the odor, they cannot completely eliminate it; chimney odors are often the symptom of a more serious chimney problem. A chimney inspection is often needed to help identify the cause of a stinky chimney.
What causes stinky chimneys?
There is no one cause of chimney odors; different kinds of smells have different causes, and identifying the kind of odor your chimney has can help pinpoint exactly what is causing it. While a chimney inspection is the best tool to find the source of your home’s chimney odor, the following are four of the most common causes of stinky chimneys.
- Animals: Sudden, sharp, rotting smells coming from the chimney often indicate the presence of a trapped animal. Birds, raccoons, squirrels, roof rats, and other small animals can find their way into chimneys through damaged chimney caps or other gaps around the flue; unfortunately, once they get in many animals are unable to get back out, leaving them trapped inside.
While live animals can cause odors from their food, feces, or nesting materials, a dead animal in the chimney can cause an overwhelming odor in the home – as well as effect the air quality. To avoid exposure to bacteria or microorganisms carried by wild animals, it is important to have them removed as soon as their presence is detected.
- Creosote: Creosote is a naturally occurring byproduct of all fuel burning fires, but buildup of creosote is most commonly seen with wood burning fireplaces. A smoky or dirty smell can be the result of excessive creosote buildup; creosote caused odors are often most noticeable in hot or humid weather.
- Drafting: If your chimney doesn’t draft properly, smoke and gas – as well as chimney odors – can blow back into and linger in your home. Smoky odors from drafting are often present long after the fireplace has been used, especially on hot or windy days. Drafting issues are commonly caused by an improperly sized flue; if you have installed a new fireplace or changed fuel sources, the flue may need to be resized in order to prevent drafting issues.
- Water: While the exterior masonry of your chimney is built to withstand the elements, delicate interior chimney components are not designed to be exposed to water. Because of this, water can cause serious damage to your chimney components – as well as chimney odors. Dank or damp smells coming from the chimney may indicate the presence of an undetected chimney leak; it is important to repair leaks as soon as possible to minimize water damage to the fireplace and chimney.
Chimney odors do not go away on their own and are often the symptom of a bigger chimney problem. If you have a stinky chimney, contact Lords Chimney today to uncover – and repair – the cause of your chimney odor.