Top 7 Reasons Why Your Wood Burning Fireplace Or Stove Smells

A fireplace is intended to offer both warmth and aesthetic appeal. In the winter, you love the heat of the flames, but as the weather warms up, you notice an odd odor emanating from your chimney. 

You think that the fireplace is unlikely to emit any unpleasant odors into your house. However, bad smells do occur, and they may occur for a variety of causes. What induces it, and how can it be cured?

Today I will help you discover reasons why your wood burning fireplace or stove smells.


7 Reasons Why Your Wood Burning Fireplace Or Stove Smells

  • New Stove

Before they achieve their maximum efficiency of supplying heat, newly installed wood-burning stoves would need to be broken in. Each manufacturer’s specifications for how many fires are required and the size and duration can vary.

You can detect a chemical odor during your wood-burning stove during the first few times, which is caused by the paint drying on your furnace when used for the first few occasions. This is natural for any furnace, and you shouldn’t be concerned if your new wood-burning stove emits a chemical odor. Continue to use your stove to finish the break-in process, and the odor should go out.

In total, it can take three or four times for your stove to break in and lose its chemical odor.

  • The Fire Releases Too Much Ash and Smoke

When the fuel isn’t burned correctly, smoke may be produced; in this instance, it’s the wood. Fire requires both oxygen and wood to live, so excessive smoke from a fire may indicate either a problem of the wood or a fire’s air supply problem.

Too much ash can limit airflow in both wood fireplaces and stoves. When ash is left unclean for an extended period, it will begin to smell. It is advised that only a couple of inches of ash be used at any given time.

While the ash should be stored regularly to keep the volume to a minimum, it should also be washed out now and then to avoid odors caused by ash that has sat for too long.

  • Problems With The Wood

A typical cause of bad odors is burning wood with so much moisture. The ideal moisture content for burning wood is 20 percent or less.

Drying the extra moisture will allow the fire to emit smoke leading to soot released up the chimney. On the interior of the chimney or flue, soot and creosote will build up, leaving a residual odor from your fireplace or furnace. Excess moisture burned off from damp wood will line the insides of your chimney, resulting in a musty odor.


Bad odors are often generated by burning wood absorbing residual emissions from car exhausts through time. This situation happened due to wood that had been dried out in garages. If you are using logs from the bottom of the pile that has been there for a long time and have been subjected to emissions daily, you may have a concern.

Keeping the logs somewhere else in your house, away from the garage, maybe the only solution to keep them from absorbing emissions from your cars.

  • Dirty Chimney

A stench from a filthy chimney can be unpleasant, and an unswept chimney can stop smoke from properly exiting your house.

Any downdraft within your chimney will spread the scent of soot and creosote into your house.

A soot and creosote-lined chimney can effectively minimize the size of its opening, making it much less successful at extracting air from your fireplace and stove than those that have recently been washed.

Check out this video to figure out how to clean your chimney:

  • Chimney Blocked by Animals or Leaves

Animal feces or, worse, a decomposing animal may be emitting foul odors from your chimney. 

Animals such as raccoons, birds, and snakes are known to gain entry to a home via the chimney, but they are usually unable to exit. Dealing with wild animals can be risky since they can bite and bear disease. Skilled chimney sweeps are well-trained and prepared to handle this situation.


When leaves fall and remain in the chimney, they tend to decompose, giving off a rotten odor. Other particles will also get into the chimney, making a chimney cap an outstanding decoration and an excellent investment.

  • Weather Conditions

Rain will get in your fireplace and cause moisture to build up within your chimney. This is particularly problematic if there isn’t a chimney cap mounted. Humid weather will intensify the odor of some soot or creosote particles in your chimney.

In case the temperature is colder than usual, smoke and fumes will not adequately exit your house. Cold air inside your chimney will prevent products of the fire in your wood burning fireplace from effectively escaping your home because cold air sinks and hot air rises. Suppose your chimney is outside of your home, you will notice that this problem is more frequent than chimneys on the inside.

Windy winds will pull air back down the chimney, causing the same problems as freezing air can block byproducts of fire from escaping your house.

  • Negative Air Pressure

This is most common in newer homes that are overly enclosed. How can unpleasant odors enter your home as a result of negative air pressure?

When you use your fireplace, the updraft forces air out of the house into the chimney at a rate that is always higher than all other paths combined. When the fire is out, different ventilation routes take over, and ventilation through the flue reverses, causing cold air from the chimney to return inside, carrying the odor with it.

Often leave a window open a crack as a simple solution to this issue. Installing a top-sealing damper operated by a chain hanging down the chimney to the hearth is a long-term remedy. When the fireplace isn’t in operation, keep it shut.

A glass fireplace panel can also be helpful. You should also supply outdoor combustion air to the appliance that is causing the problem of air pressure.

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Any house will benefit from having a fireplace or a stove. It’s a delight to use when well maintained and washed. If it emits foul smells, check our article to find out the reasons why! 

Professional checks and sweeping performed once a year, along with a thorough spring cleaning, will keep your fireplace in good working order and your home’s air safe and pure.