Why Does My Chimney Smell Bad in the Summer? Apex Chimney Services

July 2, 2019

You may have noticed an acrid, burning smell coming from your fireplace that seems to get worse as the summer goes on. In today’s post our Apex chimney contractor will explain why the worst fireplace smells happen in the summer, and what you can do about it.

Why Your Fireplace Smells in the Summer

When wood is burned in your fireplace, a natural by-product called creosote forms on the inner walls of your chimney’s flue. The creosote’s smoky scent isn’t noticeable at first, but grows worse and worse with the added humidity that’s in the air during the summer season. That’s right—it’s not the heat, but the dampness from summer storms that is mainly responsible for the horrible stench.

How to Get Rid of a Bad Fireplace Smell

  • Have your chimney professionally cleaned.According to the National Fire Protection Association, your chimney should be professionally inspected for damage and deposits at least once a year, and cleaned if the inspector deems it necessary. Excessive creosote buildup isn’t just smelly—it can also lead to a chimney fire!
  • Close the flue (AKA the damper).This should be done whenever you are not actively using the fireplace, both to reduce odors and to keep cooled – or heated, in winter – air inside your home. Make sure that damper has a tight seal and is top-mounted, with a chain to control its opening and closing.
  • Clean the fireplace.You don’t have to remove ashes after every fire, but do make sure to shovel them out (or remove with a purpose-built ash vacuum) at the end of the winter season. To ensure safety, wait at least 12-24 hours after your last fire and make sure the ash is completely cold before handling it.
  • Use vinegar. Spray the inside of the fireplace with a 1:1 blend of vinegar and water. You can also set a few open bowls of vinegar around the room to freshen the air. Alternatively, place a bucket of charcoal or kitty litter in the fireplace to absorb the odor. Commercial fireplace deodorizers are also available.
  • Place some candles in the fireplace. High outdoor air pressure tends to force the creosote aroma down into your (lower pressure) living space, in a phenomenon called downdraft. Lighting a few tea lights in the fireplace will counter the effects of the downdraft, pushing the smelly air back outside.

How an Apex Chimney Contractor Can Help

Aside from cleaning out the creosote, there are a few things a chimney company can do to help with the smell, including:

  • Insert a draft stopper.This simple measure helps to avoid energy loss and cuts your utility bills. However, you must make sure to take the stopper out before lighting a fire next fall!
  • Put a cap on the chimney to keep out precipitation.This will also stop birds and other creatures from turning your chimney into their nesting spot.

If you are struggling with a smelly chimney, we encourage you to contact Nexus Chimney Services at your earliest convenience. We will be happy to clean out your creosote and take additional steps to ensure you can return to an odor-free living space!