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If you’re getting a stinky smell in your fireplace and are wondering why this is happening, well you’re not alone. Here are some insights about why this is happening in the first place and also some food for thought on how to get rid of the smell.

Why This Is Happening

Are you wondering, why in the world does my chimney only smell bad during the summer? Well, here’s the simple answer. The change of seasons brings a change in temperature and air pressure.

During the hot months, the air pressure is typically lower indoors.  And the more airtight your home is, the more you’ll experience this pressure phenomenon. Air from outside naturally moves down your chimney to try and balance out the air pressure, and this in turn brings the smoky campfire smell into your home.

The hot and humid weather also makes the smoky smell seem stronger since our noses detect smells better in humid air.

How to Fix It

Closing your damper or glass doors to your fireplace may seem like the most obvious solution, but this rarely gets rid of the smell since neither are airtight. Some home owners will go the route of trying to make their chimney airtight so that the smell can’t come in at all. This can be difficult to do and doesn’t really address the source of the issue, but works for some folks. Here are a few ways that homeowners attempted to eliminate the smoky smell:

Chimney Balloon

Even though you’ll find this Washington Post article suggests trying chimney balloons, ultimately we don’t advise this since it’s not a guaranteed solution and it’s more of a band-aid even if it does happen to work temporarily. Here are 3 reasons why not to use chimney balloons:

If the smell is caused by creosote buildup then it will still need to be swept before you use it.
People sometimes forget that the balloon is still in there before they start the first fire of the season.  (This doesn’t happen often, but when it does it can be pretty dangerous.)
This will only solve the problem if the balloon is air tight – it’s not always easy to accomplish this especially with the unique shape of some fireplaces and the strong air pressure that hot weather can create. The more airtight the home – the stronger the pressure.

Measured/Cut Foam Board

Some individuals have taken great lengths to address the smell in their fireplace with types of homemade solutions like measuring and cutting a 3 inch piece of foam board to seal the flue. They creatively added 3 finger holes that are a half inch deep to help with installing and then removing the board.

Again, this doesn’t address the source of the problem, but works for some people as a temporary fix, which they need to do every year.

Air Freshener

Other homeowners have resorted to spraying Smells Begone or other perfumes to mask the smell. Some claim that it fixes the problem, but it likely just masks the smell until they get used to a slight campfire smell mixed with air freshener or until the hot weather is gone and no longer amplifies the smell.

The Ultimate Solution

We recommend addressing the source of the issue by contacting your local chimney sweep company to inspect your chimney and fireplace and provide tailored advice that considers all the unique factors of your home including air pressure, ventilation, chimney condition and fireplace type.

Most of the time, this smoky smell is caused by creosote buildup on the inside of your chimney and can be easily addressed by having your local professional come out every year to conduct a chimney sweep and remove the creosote.

Rooftop Chimney Sweeps serves the entire D.C. Metro and Northern VA area as well as Richmond, VA and surrounding areas. For a chimney inspection and cleaning, you can call us or request to schedule an appointment online.

Richmond, VA

Rooftop Chimney Sweeps is your Richmond chimney sweep. Need a Richmond chimney inspection? We provide inspections and chimney cleaning Henrico Va, Hanover Va, Chesterfield County, Goochland County, and Richmond City. If you’re not sure if we service your area, just give us a call.

D.C. Metro and surrounding areas

Need an Arlington chimney cleaning? We also do Fairfax chimney cleaning, Alexandria chimney cleaning and surrounding areas. Our chimney and fireplaces services are: chimney caps installation, chimney crown repair, chimney flashing repair, chimney liner installation, chimney liner repair, chimney rebuild, wood fireplace inserts, gas fireplace inserts, wood stove repair, firebox repairs, chimney inspection, chimney cleaning and much more! See all of our chimney and fireplace services here.

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