Chimneys aren't supposed to smell, but sometimes they do. If your chimney has an odor, this is an indication of a problem. The following tips will help you take care of your chimney and get rid of the odor.

Why does my chimney smell?

Typically, chimneys smell for one of two reasons:

  1. Creosote buildup. Creosote buildup is a smelly, tar-like substance that can buildup inside of chimneys over a long period of time. Creosote is a byproduct that results from burning unseasoned firewood. This substance is flammable, so when too much creosote builds up inside the chimney, this can cause a chimney fire.
  2. Dead animals. Sometimes animals (like birds) become trapped inside the chimney and die. This produces an odor as the body decomposes. Although the smell will go away with time, the body of the animal cannot stay inside the chimney if you plan to use the fireplace.

What can I do to make the smell go away?

Contact a chimney repair service for a chimney inspection and cleaning. Your chimney repair service can clear out any bird nests and other obstructions in the chimney, and will be able to remove creosote that has developed on the chimney's liner.

How can I prevent the same problem from occurring again?

The following tips can help you keep your chimney in good repair and odor-free:

  • Only burn seasoned firewood. Seasoned firewood will be gray or dark yellow in color, and may have deep cracks (called checks) on the ends. The best way to ensure that your firewood is well seasoned is to purchase it from a reputable local firewood dealer. If your firewood hisses or produces moisture when burned, your firewood is not properly seasoned and should not be burned in your fireplace.
  • Burn hot, big fires. Low, smoldering fires are the kind of fires that typically produce creosote, so burning a hot, big fire can help prevent creosote from building up.
  • Have your chimney inspected at least once per year, or more if recommended by your chimney cleaner. Even if you use your chimney only once or twice per year, you should still have it inspected annually. Your chimney inspector can check for blockages and make recommendations for cleaning or repairs. If you use your chimney frequently, your chimney inspector may recommend cleanings multiple times per year. Follow the recommendations of your chimney cleaner.

For more information about how you can take care of your chimney and get rid of any odors, talk to a company like Carleton Chimney Services Inc. He or she can make more recommendations for the care and maintenance of your chimney.