Smelly Fireplace

andrelaplume2January 2, 2007

We are new homeowners with a wood burning fireplace. We plan on getting it cleaned by a sweep even though the house inspector said it looked clean. We do not plan on using the fireplace for heat at this point but more for ambience. Maybe once a month. We lit one of those 5 pound paper logs this weekend. We opened the flu, strted it and closed the flu the next morning. We I went down to close the flu in the morning the entire room had a you might smell outside. The neighbor said thats part of the fireplace experience. Not for us. Is this typical? Did I do something worng. We want the flame but not the smell. I thought of a propane insert but not this that a better solution?

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I find that if I run the dryer or kitchen exhaust fan with all the windows in the house closed, the backdraft through the chimney causes a smokey smell in the house. I don't like that smokey smell, so I don't use the fireplace much at all. I wish mine was gas. Yeah, gas with the remote control starter. :)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 3:20PM
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There is a similar thread entitled "Fireplace makes indoors smell like campground" on Page 2.

For my woodburning fireplace, closing both the damper and the glass doors takes care of the funky smell. If I leave the damper open, I get that smell even with the glass doors closed. I notice that the smell happens on damp and rainy days - must be a reaction between moisture and the creosote on the chimney liner walls.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 1:15PM
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We have a masonary/tile-lined chimeny fireplace built about 20 years ago. We have burned a cord or more of wood each of the first 5-6 years, then much less, maybe a half cord each year. All has been burned in an "air-tight" insert. I put air-tight in quotes, because while the insert is air-tight it isn't air-tight to the chimeny, it just dumps smoke into the fireplace chamber. This has required removal of the damper. Over the years, clean the cheminey or not, this has caused an increase in odor, expecially in warm damp/rainy weather (e.g., that we're having right now in the NYC area). This has moved me to take on the task today of removing the insert, cleaning the fireplace and reinstalling the damper in the hope that that will reduce odor.

I've owned houses with fireplaces before and when they were used with the damper in place, closed when not in use, we didn't find any objectionable odors. My daughter, on the other hand, says no more fires in their two fireplaces, she can't stand the smell. I think the sensitivity of the "nose" makes a big difference too. Clearly many people use fire places and ture air-tight inserts (those with a stainless steel pipe connected directly to the insert and run up the chimney to the outside) and are not troubled by the odor, there must be some, even if faint.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 9:21AM
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Well, so far so good. I cleaned a lot of burned stuff out from behind the insert (see above), cleaned the insert, vacuum and spray all surfaces with a "smoke" odor kill product (not sure I have a good can, the spray is clear, but the spray head gets foam on it) and with Fabrize (spelling). Installed the damper, and filled a gap on one end with cotton material. I do not plan on using the fireplace this year. Reinstalled the insert (to cover the hole) and so far no noticable odor. The weather is cooling down, so that will not a test condidtion.

So what am I going to do with the cord of wood I purchased? I'll use some in the airtight stove in my basement, and keep some for emergency heating, then too with the airtight stove in the basement.

The insert is too heavy for me and a "friend" to remove. I think I'll hire the chimney sweep to clean the chimney in the spring and see if I can also hire him to remove the old insert. He sells inserts (Quadrafire), so he must be able to handle the weight. I think I will then install a glass screen and just use the fireplace in old fashioned way, and close the damper when not in use.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 10:56PM
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What worked for me to stop the stinky burnt fireplace smell in the summer was to plug the fireplace chimney with a chimney balloon. You put it in low just above or below the damper and it prevents air from comming down into the house.
I put the plug in and put a large bowl of vinegar in the firebox for two days and the smell was gone. It does come back though if i dont keep the chimney plug in.
I think the smell sourse has mostly to do with the fact that my wood is only been dried for 1 year. And the cherry wood i am using has a funky smell to it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Inflatable plug to stop stinky fireplace smell

    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 1:15PM
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