Identifying Common Causes of Chimney Odors

Fireplaces and chimneys, although they add warmth and monetary value to your home, sometimes they just flat out smell. Chimney odors become more common during this time of year when the moisture inside a chimney heats up on hot and humid days during the summertime. While smelly chimneys can be frustrating for homeowners, you certainly do not have to live with them! When it comes to odors coming from your chimney, the first step in addressing the issue is diagnosing the cause.

In this blog, we are going to review some of the most common culprits of chimney odors — after all, as Maryland’s source for chimney cleaning services, we’ve seen it all!


Creosote in the chimney is a normal result of burning wood in your fireplace. Typically, creosote doesn’t cause a problem for homeowners as long as it is swept away between each fire-burning season. Creosote odor is hard to miss, as it smells strong and acrid, kind of like hot asphalt.


Just like the gutters on your home, your chimney can collect natural debris that drops from nearby trees and blows across your rooftop, especially if you don’t have a chimney cap! When debris begins to accumulate in your chimney system and goes unchecked, it can form a dangerous chimney clog, but it also can cause an odor as it decays in your chimney. To identify the smell of decaying debris in your chimney, keep your nose out for the smell associated with an old leaf pile or the smell of compost — yuck!

Chimney Leaks

There are various causes of chimney leaks. Water can cause tons of issues, the least of which are chimney odors. When the inside of your chimney contains moisture, it can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. If chimney leaks are the cause of the smell, it will likely smell damp, wet, and similar to mildew or wet carpeting. If this unpleasant smell is emanating from your chimney, you’ll want to schedule a chimney inspection immediately. An unchecked water leak can lead to serious water damage to your chimney and the structure of your home.

Animal Invasion

Birds and other animals in your chimney can cause many issues, including foul chimney odors. The odors caused by animal intrusion can vary. An animal that becomes trapped and dies in the chimney will likely cause a decaying smell. Additionally, droppings can cause another distinct odor to come from your chimney. The best way to prevent animals from entering your chimney is to install a durable chimney cap.

The best way to prevent your chimney from developing unpleasant smells is to have it regularly cleaned and maintained by a professional chimney sweep! If you need chimney services, contact Chimney Care Plus! We’re proud to provide service for folks throughout Western Maryland, including those in Frederick, Mt. Airy, Hagerstown, Myersville, and the surrounding areas.