Why is My Fireplace Smelly?

The whole fireplace system can become smelly for various reasons. Wood burning fireplaces and gas fireplaces are the main victims of bad smells. For the gas fireplace, it can be said to be the smell of natural gas or propane. A wood-burning fireplace can produce a bad smell for several reasons. Up to now, there is no case of an electric fireplace having a bad smell.

The chimney is the first part of a fireplace you should inspect once you get the bad smell. The chimney is vulnerable to attracting agents of bad smell. For example, leaves and dead animals can get stuck in the chimney. Moisture is also a good reason you can have a bad smell in your fireplace. Here are some of the reasons you can have a bad smell in your fireplace.

1. Water in the chimney

Always ensure your chimney is free of any moisture or else you will get a musty smell in your house. Install the chimney cap and do a frequent check-up to ensure it is in perfect condition. An old chimney cap can have holes that allow rainwater to pass. Water in the chimney will accelerate the damper to rust leading to poor operation.

2. Animals leaving in the chimney

A chimney cap prevents rainwater, but it should also have mesh netting. The mesh netting keeps animals out of your chimney. Animals can be dead or alive but will still make your fireplace smell. Rodents like rats and raccoons can access your home through the chimney then they get stuck on their way out. Such animals may die and produce a decomposing smell.

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Live animals can be dangerous and can bite. Please use professionals to remove such animals from your chimney. Decomposing animals can also be hard to clean and remove. Use experts to clean up your chimney. Some types of birds are seasonal and are protected by the law. Be careful on how you handle such birds.

3. Dead leaves

Still, the chimney is the problem; dead leaves can accumulate in the chimney and start to rot. This is the worst smell you can get in your chimney. Here the chimney cap is the only solution. The moment dead leaves mix up with moisture, they start to rot. Also, use mesh netting to keep out small leaves. Do not forget to clean your chimney regularly.

4. Accumulation of creosote and soot

Creosote is a heavy type of soot that accumulates in the chimney when using the wood-burning fireplace. Creosote has the worst smell on your fireplace. Creosote is dark brown or black tar. It is also flammable and hence dangerous if it accumulates to the highest degree.

Soot is also a result of the incomplete burning of fossil fuels. It is mainly made up of amorphous carbon. Soot will smell when it comes in contact with moisture. Still, the chimney cap is an important part. Creosote and soot will always be there on any fireplace. But you must do regular cleaning to eliminate the bad smell.

5. Negative air pressure

Bad smells have to escape from your home through the chimney. But they may flow back inside when the air pressure inside your home is not balancing with the outside one. Making some improvements to your home, like changing exhaust fans and windows, can create negative air pressure because the house becomes too tight.

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Ensure the damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use. The damper should also be in perfect condition or else it will not be effective. Some experts advise you also install the top damper on your chimney. A chain controls such dampers. Installing a glass screen will also ensure the warm air does not escape when the fireplace is on.


The fireplace chimney is the target part when it comes to the bad smell of your fireplace. The negative air pressure is the main reason your fireplace can be smelling. Install dampers to prevent the bad smell from flowing back into your home. Next, ensure your fireplace is moisture free to avoid the musty smell.

Dry leaves and animals in your fireplace will also lead to a bad smell. All in all, the solution to a smelly fireplace is cleaning the chimney and installing the chimney cap. Remember the mesh netting to keep out stubborn animals.

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