Foul Fireplace Smells & What You Can Do About Them

Few things make a home homier than a warm, crackling fire. And if there’s anything that can ruin that experience, it’s a smelly fireplace. Let’s look at why your fireplace might make your home smell like an ashtray and how to prevent it.

cleaning and removing creosote in chimney in Shawnee KSWhat Causes Fireplace Odors?

Because foul odors come from the fireplace, it’s natural to think that’s the cause, but it’s more likely the chimney, and here’s why.

Creosote Buildup

The main cause of odors is creosote, a byproduct of burning wood. This sticky, tar-like substance produces a strong, smoky smell and is a significant fire hazard.

Moisture and Mold

Chimneys are susceptible to moisture, especially in areas that undergo a freeze/thaw cycle, causing bricks and mortar joints to crack and allowing water to seep in. Moreover, if you don’t have a chimney cap, it’s easy for water, snow, and ice to get in. Excessive moisture leads to mold growth and musty odors.


Birds, squirrels, raccoons, rats, and other small critters find refuge in warm chimneys during winter. They build nests, leave droppings, and sometimes die, leading to unpleasant odors and an unhealthy home environment.

Negative Air Pressure

New homes are tightly sealed, which is excellent for energy efficiency but bad for your fireplace because it causes negative air pressure. Negative air pressure can lead to chimney odors drawing down the chimney and into the home. Negative air pressure also makes it more difficult to maintain a healthy fire because it can’t get enough oxygen.

Ash and Soot

Allowing ash and soot to accumulate in your fireplace can result in odors.

How to Prevent and Eliminate Fireplace Odors

Regular Cleaning and Inspections

Because creosote is the leading cause of chimney and fireplace odors, hire a professional chimney sweep to clean and inspect the chimney at least once a year. Certified chimney sweeps are trained to detect issues like mortar or brick damage that allow water to enter, leading to mold and musty odors, and issues that could be a fire hazard.

Install a Chimney Cap

Many people confuse chimney caps with crowns or chase covers, but they’re different. A cap is a metal component that covers the opening atop the chimney. Caps are vital for stopping rain, debris, and animals from getting in and protecting your chimney from blockages and damage. Keeping water out is key to preventing odors and can extend your chimney’s lifespan.

Balance Indoor Air Pressure

To counteract negative air pressure, open a window slightly in the room with the fireplace or install vents to get better circulation and improve the draft. This can prevent odors from flowing back into your home and make your fire burn more efficiently.

Clean the Hearth

Regularly clean the hearth by removing ashes to prevent odors.

Use Deodorant

You can find fireplace and chimney deodorant products at your hardware store or big box retailer. These products don’t replace annual professional cleaning but can keep it smelling fresh between appointments.

chimney and fireplace cleaning company in Kansas City KS

Make an Appointment With Us!

If you need professional chimney cleaning, you’ve come to the right place. Fluesbrothers Chimney & Fireplace is the number one chimney and fireplace company in Kansas City. Our technicians are certified by the National Fireplace Institute and the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

And if you need something beyond cleaning, we’ve got you covered because we do everything from repairs, inspections, rebuilds, installations, and more.

Schedule your chimney cleaning today by calling 913-236-7141.