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What is causing your chimney to stink?

Chimneys can be very dirty places. Unfortunately, what’s in your chimney can sometimes make its way into your home in the form of unpleasant smells. If you notice musty, smoky or rotten smells coming from your chimney, there are several possible culprits.

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You probably know that creosote causes a fire risk to your home, and you make sure to have your chimney swept before the fire-burning season each year to keep your home safe. Creosote also comes with another risk: It can cause a deeply unpleasant odor to seep from your chimney into your home. Especially during humid summer months, or when rainy weather allows water to make its way into your chimney, the creosote in your chimney can fill your home with an unpleasant, bad barbecue or asphalt-like smell.


Animals are another common culprit of chimney odors. Animals can make their way into your chimney and build nests, become trapped and die or leave behind droppings. Dead animals, the rotting remnants of animal nests and animal droppings all can create horrible smells in your chimney and in your home.


Windy weather can drive leaves, twigs and other yard debris into your chimney. If that organic waste builds up within your chimney, it will begin to decompose. That will lead to an unpleasant, compost-like smell in your chimney that can intensify in warm summer weather.


Particularly if you have a masonry chimney, soot can cause a smoky smell to fill your home even after the chimney has been swept. That’s because masonry chimneys are highly porous, and the materials absorb and retain soot and its smoky smell.

Water damage

If water is finding its way into your chimney, it can cause major problems and major smells. Even a small amount of water can exacerbate any of the odor problems listed above. And if there is standing water or water damage within your chimney, it can lead to mold growth, with brings its own set of smells and threatens your home’s indoor air quality.

Negative air pressure

If you’ve never had a problem with a stinky chimney in the past, but you’re noticing unpleasant smells after undergoing home renovations, negative air pressure could be to blame. A new roof, ventilation fans, new windows or skylights, and new combustion appliances all can cause negative air pressure within your home. To help stabilize the air pressure in your home, air can be pulled down the chimney and into your home, bringing with it the odors your chimney holds. Cracking open a window, turning on a fan, closing your chimney’s damper or closing your fireplace doors can help to stop air being pulled in from your chimney.

The best way to determine the source of your chimney odor — and to formulate a plan to stop it — is to have your chimney swept and inspected. A chimney sweeping will clear away any animals, creosote or debris that could be causing the odor, and a chimney inspection can help to locate any problems, such as water leaks, that could result in chimney odors. If you’re experiencing a bad smell from your chimney, call Chimney Saver Solutions to schedule an appointment today.

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