As we get ready to enter into the Fall and Winter seasons, we start thinking about the need to ‘dust off’ our heaters and fireplaces. Along these lines, we often hear of complaints from clients that their homes ‘smell like ash’ or ‘the fireplace stinks up the place’. What we know is that this can be a very real problem and not just an issue of sensitive noses!!
Fireplaces, not realized by many, are truly engineered designs that, if not properly maintained or designed, can very easily have reverse airflow through the chimney and create a stink in the home. What we mean by reverse airflow is that air is coming into the house down through the chimney, when in fact we would home air would go up and out through the chimney.
While a fireplace will always have a small amount of smell, here are just a few known causes for bad odor problems:
- The fire damper is not properly closed when not in use.
- The chimney was not properly designed, and normal wind-flow across the top of the chimney outside causes a reverse ‘suction’ effect.
- Your home is under negative pressure, due to running exhaust fans or other reasons, thus pulling air in through the chimney.
- If it is a wood-burning fireplace, you may have a build-up of creosote, caused by burning wood.
- You may have moisture getting into the chimney, which can make normal fireplace odors stronger.
- The chimney is partially clogged due to leaves, nests or animals.
The only true way to figure out your particular issue is to have a professional out to inspect your fireplace and chimney. And like any part of your home, be sure to keep both properly cleaned and maintained!
~ Matt B.
Matt Baker is a Realtor with The Natasha Group and licensed Professional Engineer