With each new season comes some adjustments, and each of these changes has its pros and cons. Winter, for instance, it’s a time for nostalgia and Christmas spirit, but it also brings frigid temps and runny noses. And who doesn’t love the smells of fresh flowers in the spring? That is… unless you have allergies that tend to resurface. All in all, I think anyone could find the good and bad in any time of year!
Well, with different seasons also comes adjustments with your fireplace and chimney. In fall and winter, you get to enjoy endless cracking fires, while in the spring and summer months, you can adorn this focal point with flowers and decor without the risk of fire hazards. Unfortunately, no season is without one common downside – chimney odors. What does differ is how to best combat them based on the weather outside.
That’s why we’ve got your seasonal guide to addressing chimney odors, so you can be ready and prepared, no matter the time of year. Check out our tips below, then reach out with any questions. We’re always happy to help out!
Tackling Spring & Summer Chimney Smells
Rain is the major cause of springtime odors. When rain and moisture gets into your chimney, it mixes with your creosote and this combination can create some pretty nasty smells. Another common complaint is a burnt barbecue or campfire smell, which can come about on hotter, humid days – and especially when you crank your air conditioning.
Then, there’s the issue of birds. This time of year, many birds are working their way back from the south, and they’re ready to set up camp and lay some eggs. Unfortunately, your chimney lends a perfect environment for just that, which means they’ll be dragging in debris, as well as defecating in your flue. And there’s also the risk that they’ll get stuck in there and pass away, which will invite a new array of foul-smelling odors.
Finally, based on how tight your home is, airflow issues could be the culprit behind poor smells coming in from your flue. A well-insulated home offers many benefits, but it can prevent chimney odors from moving up and out of the chimney, which leaves them with nowhere to turn but back into your home.
But how can these odors be resolved and then prevented down the line? We’ve got some helpful tips:
- Invest in a Chimney Cap: Having a chimney cap installed solves both the problem of rain entering and of animals stinking things up. The one condition? It needs to be properly fitted and installed by a professional! Even a small error or mishap will deem it ineffective, as water can enter through even the tiniest openings. And if there’s any vulnerable spot, you can bet curious critters will easily find their way in, too.
- Schedule Seasonal Maintenance: When you’re in between burning seasons, getting an annual inspection completed is a must. And the sooner you book it, the better! This will give us ample time to address any repairs and get out any foul-smelling creosote or build-up.
- Upgrade Your Damper: Do you still have a traditional throat damper? Then it may be time to upgrade to a top-sealing option. These work with your chimney cap to keep out smelly critters and rainfall, ensuring your system stays safer for the long haul – and free of those foul odors.
- Make Your Chimney Taller: Increasing the height of your chimney can help exhaust more smoke, fumes, and all of the smelly odors that accompany them up and out of your chimney. This is good for cases where your home is simply too tight and locking them in.
Addressing Fall & Winter Chimney Odors
No picture of fall or winter is complete without a fireplace going strong in the corner! But what should be a cozy evening indoors can turn south quickly if this same fireplace is emitting some less-than-pleasant odors into your living space. What’s typically behind these smells?
Assuming your seasonal maintenance is done and your creosote is already cleared out, there are a few culprits that could behind these odors.
Note: If creosote deposits are still present, be sure to book a sweeping! Not only will your system smell better, but it’ll be safer for use in the months ahead, and your risk of chimney fires will be reduced dramatically, too.
As in spring and summer, there may be the presence of critters, too. With temps dropping, more creatures will be looking for a warm place to settle down, so you might be seeing squirrels, raccoons, or even the occasional opossum, in addition to birds. As advised above, be sure you have a chimney cap in place!
And then there’s the smells from putting your fireplace to use – ones that you won’t experience during the warmer months. Your ash pile could be causing the issue or maybe you’re getting smoke in your living space, which then lingers in your curtains and furniture. Whatever the case, we’ve got tips to address your issues:
- Clean Out Your Ash Pile: Regularly cleaning ash out of your fireplace ash will aid a lot in keeping odors in check. Not to mention, too much ash can wear on your fireplace grate, and if it gets too out of control you won’t have as much room for your fuel, either. That said, don’t clear it all out! Leaving behind a small 1 or 2 inch layer is beneficial when lighting future fires and won’t do any harm during your burning season.
- Warm Your Flue: Is smoke pouring into your living space with every fire you light? Try warming your flue to help reverse your airflow. Simply roll an old newspaper, light the top, then hold it inside of your chimney for a bit. A top-sealing damper will help to keep your flue warmer when not in use, too.
- Burn Hotter Fires: The hotter your fire is, the more efficiently smoke will move up and out of your chimney, ensuring it doesn’t flow back into your living space. Burning seasoned wood will help with this, and it will minimize creosote accumulation, too.
- Call an Expert: If smells are lingering during the burning season or if you’re struggling to keep air flow in check, call in our experts! Ignoring the issue will only make things worse (and put your household at risk), and our crew would be happy to do some back draft troubleshooting to get to the bottom of it.
Give Us a Call!
Need chimney care? Whether you need repairs, annual maintenance, relining services, or something else, our sweeps have got your back! We’re certified with the Chimney Safety Institute of America, licensed, insured, and we pride ourselves on always putting the needs of the customer first.
If you need care in Charlottesville, Crozet, Madison, Nellysford, Ivy, or anywhere else nearby, give us a call at 434-443-5309 or reach out online today!