Chimneys can give off an odor due to many things. This can happen whether you use the chimney often or infrequently. Of course, if you use the chimney during the colder months only, the likelihood of a bad odor increases. Knowing what some of the causes of a stinky chimney are can help you find a solution quickly. Some of the most common reasons for chimney smells are:


This residue from wood burning not only causes fires, it can give off a strong odor in hot and humid conditions. The odor from this is somewhat like asphalt, although some describe the smell as similar to spoiled barbecue.

Rotting Leaves and Debris

The odor of rotting leaves and debris that oftentimes fall into the chimney flue can be offensive, especially if it is wet. The installation of a chimney cap can help prevent leaves from entering the chimney opening.

Animals and Birds

Small animals such as squirrels and birds sometimes nest in uncapped chimneys. The droppings can become quite unpleasant over time. In addition, some these creatures may die inside the chimney flue. The smell of decay can become overpowering.

Water Leaks

If there is no cap on your chimney rain water or melted snow can get into the chimney and seep into the masonry. Sometimes the water will also settle into the smoke shelf which is an area behind the damper. Over time, this will mix with soot and produce a foul musty smell.

A Dirty Chimney

Your chimney needs to be kept clean. This means having it swept periodically by a trained professional. Give us a call here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 if you would like to schedule an appointment for a chimney cleaning with our CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps.

Bad chimney odors can be attributed to the type of fuel you use to light the logs or on prefabricated logs. Getting expert advice on what to use is important. You may also find that the smoke may not vent properly, so while the smoke will rise when the fire is lit, the following day, you may notice a strong smoky smell.

How to Deal With Chimney odors

The first step in managing and getting rid of chimney odors is to have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. An inspection will identify the source of the odor. Keeping your damper closed when not in use is also important. Of course, some damper doors are not properly sealed, so you may need to replace this.

No one wants a chimney that smells bad. It makes it uncomfortable to enjoy the warmth of your home. A smelly chimney is a common problem, but once you have annual maintenance done you can minimize or even eliminate chimney odors altogether. Luckily, all of these issues can be corrected by one of our CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps in Drexel Hill.