There are good things and bad things that come with every seasonal change. For instance, you may strongly dislike the cold winds of winter, but who doesn’t love the festivities of Christmas? And spring is a time to celebrate warming temps and blooming flowers, but if you’re prone to allergies, this may cause a bit of a struggle.
That said, there’s one inconvenience that every season tends to share – chimney odors. The good news is that there are ways to combat and prevent these. You just may need to adjust your strategy based on the season – and that’s what we’re here to guide you on.
SPRING & SUMMER CHIMNEY ODORS
What are the main culprits behind springtime and summertime odors? We’ve got the lowdown:
- Rain: Springtime is notorious for rainfall, which is great for your garden, but not so great for your chimney. If this water gets into your flue, you can expect some unpleasant musty odors as it mixes with your creosote.
- Air Conditioning: Are warmer outdoor temps causing you to crank your A/C? This act can trigger odors, and many report a strong campfire/smoky smell once their HVAC system kicks in.
- Heat/Humidity: Notice a burnt barbecue smell on those hotter, humid days? This is another common complaint once the warmer summer months make an appearance, and it’s usually linked to having excess creosote deposits in your flue.
- Birds: This time of year, birds are coming back home to build nests, lay eggs, and help their babies grow. Unfortunately, there are less options for them nowadays due to trees being cut down to build housing developments. This means more and more are being drawn to chimneys as a safe haven, and with these critters comes debris buildup and foul odors.
So, what can be done to prevent these odors from ruining your nice weather vibes?
- Inspections & Sweepings: Annual chimney inspections are a vital part of fireplace maintenance and should be scheduled between every burning season. If creosote, birds, or other build-up is present in your flue, we’ll then do everything possible to clear it all out (assuming any birds aren’t protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act), so you can get back to enjoying your living space odor-free.
- Properly Installed Chimney Caps: A chimney cap is effective for keeping out rain, debris, and animals, but only if it’s fitted to your unique set-up and properly installed. That’s why hiring a certified sweep for the job is always a must! If your cap is missing, damaged, or ill-fitted, give us a call to set you up right.
- Top-Sealing Dampers: A top-sealing damper sits at the top of your flue (rather than the throat like dampers of the past), giving your flue a tight and reliable seal when not in use. Among other benefits, a major draw of top-sealing dampers is their ability to work alongside the chimney cap to keep harmful (and smelly) things out of your chimney.
- Look Into Airflow Solutions: If your home is too tight, that can be a reason why drafts are reversing into your home when you run your A/C, rather than moving up and out of your chimney. Fortunately, there are ways to encourage better airflow, and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction.
FALL & WINTER CHIMNEY ODORS
Have you resolved your summertime odors? Great! Unfortunately, with fall and winter comes a whole new set of problems. But don’t fret… we can help you address these, too! Be aware of the following common problems:
- Snow/Sleet & Creosote: As in spring, combining moisture and creosote creates foul odors. If you have yet to get your sweeping booked, get it done ASAP! This will reduce your risk of chimney fires during the burning season, too.
- Woodland Critters: The cooler things get, the more creatures will be drawn to your chimney. That means you could find raccoons, squirrels, and other critters and rodents drawn to your chimney, in addition to those persistent birds.
- Fireplace Ash: If wood is your fuel of choice, your ash pile could triggering some lingering unpleasant odors. It’s known for leaving a stale, smoky-like smell behind after your fires are out.
- Smoke Back-Up: If smoke and fireplace fumes aren’t effectively moving up and out of your flue, then the only place they have to go is back into your home. This quickly affects your aesthetics and it can leave lingering smells on your carpet, couches, and curtains.
So, as in the warmer months, a chimney sweeping is a must for reducing creosote odors, and you’ll definitely want both a well-fitted cap or chase cover and a top-sealing damper to prevent rain-related smells and animal entry.
That said, there are odors that come up in the fall and winter that you simply won’t experience during the months of unuse in the spring and summer. Here are some tips to prevent them:
- Scoop Your Fireplace Ash: Keeping in mind that leaving a 1-2 inch pile of ash in your fireplace is recommended, you should still be regularly scooping out your ash pile when it gets past that point. This will both help prevent odors and keep your ash from breaking down your grate prematurely.
- Burn Hotter Fires: Hotter fires help slow down creosote accumulation, and they also ensure your smoke is swiftly directed up and out of your flue, rather than lingering around and entering your living space. What’s one of the best ways to burn hotter fires? Burn only seasoned wood!
- Warm Your Flue Before Fires: Sometimes smoke enters your living space because the cold air in your flue pushes it down before the chimney is properly warmed up. A top-sealing damper helps to prevent this by keeping your flue warmer during the winter, but you can also reverse the airflow before lighting a fire by holding a lit rolled-up newspaper in there for a bit.
- Adjust Your Chimney’s Height & Size: A well-insulated home can be a great thing, but not when it comes to lighting fires. A lack of make-up air will force smoke and odors back into your home, but having a professional adjust your chimney’s height or size can help your system pull fumes upwards.
Need Professional Insight? We’re Here for You!
If you need care in the Milwaukee area, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We’ll be there for you through every season!