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Troubleshooting Smelly Chimneys

When the weather gets warm and humid, many homeowners are faced with an obnoxious odor in their home coming from their chimney that is totally different than the normal smell from the frequently used fireplace. In fact, that horrible smell tends to occur much more often in the warmer months or when your fireplace hasn’t been used. That horrible smell can be caused by many common, yet sometimes difficult to pinpoint and resolve factors. Bulldog Chimney Sweeps’ skilled technicians have been identifying and correcting smelly chimney issues for residents in and around west central Colorado since 1993.

There are many causes of smelly chimneys. Nesting and decaying animals, creosote buildup, and mold and moisture are some of the most common causes of that putrid smell. A professional chimney sweep is trained and has the proper equipment to root out the cause of problem and correct it. Simply masking the odor with baking soda or other deodorants is not enough. When your chimney and fireplace begin to smell it is a signal that something needs to be addressed. As unpleasant as the odor is, it is the damage that can occur from the cause of the smell that is of major concern.


A professional chimney sweep will inspect and locate the source of the odor and fix the problem. Furthermore, the reason the odor is so strong can be due to downdrafts in your homes. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) “A good sweeping will help but usually won’t solve the problem completely. The real problem is the air being drawn down the chimney, a symptom of overall pressure problems in the house. Some make-up air should be introduced somewhere else in the house.”

The inspectors from the Professional Home Inspection Service further cautions homeowners, “While a mild smoke odor is a minor problem, the issue can be very serious if the same thing occurs with naturally drafting gas appliances. The same negative pressure could be drawing combustion gases including carbon monoxide back down the utility chimney, posing a very unhealthy situation. If this problem is a possibility in your house, make sure your carbon monoxide detector is in good working order, and call in a professional for further assessment.”

Your professional chimney sweep will bring the tools and expertise to troubleshoot the cause of the problem and correct it for you before any structure damage can be done or you and your family face ongoing fire and toxic gas hazards. In addition, the expertise to know where to look for the problems comes from an understanding of chimney and home construction, aerodynamics, and even the patterns and habits of animals and birds. This knowledge and expertise are what distinguish a professional chimney sweep.

If the smell is due to downdrafts, then techniques to correct the negative air pressure need to be put in place. If there is mold or moisture, the areas of water seepage must be corrected. When wildlife chooses to make their home in your chimney, considerations and familiarity with local, regional, and federal wildlife protection laws must be taken into account while choosing the most effective course of correction.

Unfortunately, troubleshooting and correcting a chimney smell are jobs best left to a chimney professional. Fortunately, when you live in west central Colorado, Bulldog Chimney is just a phone call away. Heed the warnings your smelling chimney is giving you!