It is not uncommon to walk by your fireplace and have an odd smell coming from it. Sometimes this smell is only temporary, but other times it has you reaching for a gas mask and wondering if something actually died in there. Well, you may not be that far off! Here are some of the leading causes of fireplace and chimney odor.

Multiple causes of a smelly chimney

  1. Mustiness – in all likelihood, you have water sitting in the smoke chamber. Over time, the smell becomes more pungent and will penetrate the entire home.
  2. “That” Smell – not sure how to properly term it, but we all know that smell. Be it a dead critter of thoughtful presents from critters, the smell is almost instantly recognizable. If an animal has used your chimney as its own personal bathroom or was trapped and died in your chimney, the odor is literally enough to make you gag. As the heat gets turned up, it will only make it worse.
  3. Decomp – in many cases, this smell is caused by leaves getting into the chimney and combining with the damp soot. If you have ever walked by a pile of dead leaves, you will recognize the smell. It is virtually a combination of the above two odors.
  4. Burnt Asphalt – this is the infamous creosote buildup we have discussed so many times. The larger the buildup, the more significant the smell. Not only does it smell bad, but it is also extremely dangerous.

The good news for the homeowner that is experiencing any of these smells is that they are all discoverable and treatable with a simply chimney inspection and cleaning. In addition, most of them are preventable with the installation of a chimney cap. But, in the meantime, you are going to need to call a chimney sweep.

The ever-fearless chimney sweep will find these issues and take care of them for you. If there are structural problems, which may be the case if you are getting that musty smell, he or she will make a recommendation for repair options.