How to Fix Your Smelly Fireplace

Winter is officially here, meaning thousands of people will count on their fireplaces for warmth and atmosphere. What they don’t count on, however, is the odor that makes their home smell like an ashtray. 

Let’s look at what causes your fireplace and chimney to smell and what you can do about it. 

creosote build up in Bridgeport CTCommon Causes of Chimney and Fireplace Odor


The main cause of those foul odors from the fireplace and chimney is creosote buildup. Creosote is a tar-like substance that comes from burning wood and emits a strong, smoky smell, especially during humid weather or heavy rain. 


Moisture can damage your chimney, cause musty odors, and spur mold growth. If you don’t have a chimney cap, rainwater pours in, mixing with creosote, and creating a strong odor. If water leaks persist, you could have a mold problem. Mold makes your home smell and breathing in the spores can exacerbate allergies or upper respiratory conditions. 

Animal Nests

Another issue with not having a cap is animals like birds, squirrels, and raccoons getting into the chimney. These critters can build nests, leave droppings, or die, causing unpleasant smells.

Ash and Soot

Leftover ash and soot in the fireplace can produce a dusty, burnt wood smell, especially if it becomes damp, so it’s important to clean it out regularly. 

Negative Air Pressure

Modern homes are tightly sealed, which is great for reducing heat and cooling loss, but detrimental for fireplace owners. Tightly sealed homes can experience negative air pressure, causing chimney odors to flow into the living room and throughout the house. 

How to Fix Your Smelly Fireplace

The good news about chimney and fireplace odors is that they’re preventable. Here’s what we recommend.

Regular Cleaning

Because creosote and debris are the most common causes of chimney odors, regular cleaning by a certified professional is the best way to stop the problem before it happens. 

Professional chimney sweeps have the proper tools and training to effectively remove creosote, ash, and debris to keep the system clean. It’s recommended to have your chimney professionally cleaned at least once a year, preferably in late summer or fall, before you need it for winter.

chimney cap installations in Chester NJ

Proper Ventilation

Ensure your home is well-ventilated to prevent negative air pressure, help your fire burn more efficiently, and guard against unwanted odors. Good ventilation improves air quality, can prevent moisture buildup, and prolongs your chimney’s lifespan. Ask your local fireplace specialist about how to improve your home’s ventilation. 

Install a Cap

We alluded to the importance of a chimney cap above, but it bears repeating. Installing a chimney cap is a cost-effective way to prevent animals, rain, and debris from getting into the chimney and potentially causing odors and water damage. 

Use Seasoned Firewood

Burn dry, seasoned firewood. Dry wood burns more efficiently, while green wood with a high moisture content creates more smoke, leading to faster creosote buildup. 

Seal Unused Fireplaces

If you have a fireplace you don’t use, consider sealing it to prevent outside air from getting into the house. This can prevent odors and reduce your heating and cooling bills. 

Consider Waterproofing

Water or weatherproofing a chimney is an inexpensive way to protect it from moisture damage, which can lead to leaks and odors. A professional chimney waterproofing will last several years, making it a worthwhile investment. 

How to Eliminate Existing Odors

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s why it’s best to do everything possible to prevent chimney and fireplace odors in the first place. But what if your chimney smells now? 

Use a Deodorizer

You can buy commercial chimney deodorizers to neutralize unpleasant smells until you can schedule a professional cleaning. Alternatively, you can make your own deodorizer using baking soda or vinegar to absorb odors.

Repair Leaks Immediately

If your chimney sweep finds leaks or other damage during their annual inspection, take care of them now because the longer you wait, the worse they get. It doesn’t take long for tiny cracks to turn into deteriorating masonry joints or spalling bricks, which are expensive to fix. 

Fixing fireplace smells in Greenwich CT

Let National Chimney Cleaners Help

National Chimney Cleaners is the number one chimney and fireplace service in Connecticut and New Jersey. We offer a full range of services, including cleaning, repair, rebuilding, and maintenance.

Whether you need your chimney cleaned to eliminate odors or are concerned about the danger of creosote buildup, call us today to book an appointment at 800-631-6177


Use an Experienced, Established Chimney Sweep Company!

Don’t take chances with uninsured, novice, roofers, unregistered business, no workman’s comp.
Our pros have to know what they’re doing when they put their heads up a chimney and to do that, chimney sweeps obtain specialized training and have years of experience in the field.