Q: How often should a chimney be cleaned?

A: It depends on how often you use your fireplace or wood stove. A good rule is to have it inspected after every face cord of wood you burn. A face cord is a stack of wood approximately 4’x 8′.

Q: Why does smoke back-up into my home?

A: Sometimes the flue is cold and there is no draft. In this case, the flue needs to be pre-heated. The easiest way to do this is by lighting the log lighter alone for a few minutes. Backpuffing can also be caused by certain wind conditions. Check for wind direction and speed. This may identify the problem. If smoke often backs up during a fire, there may be more serious problems with the fireplace, damper, flue, or chimney. Call us to investigate the problem.

Q: Why does my fireplace smell bad?

A: That smell is the odor of creosote. The odor is almost always carried up and away by the draft. Unfortunately, in the warmer weather, the draft is sometimes insufficient and can even reverse to carry the odors into the room. High humidity further aggravates the problem by increasing the strength of the odor. There are commercial chimney deodorants that work pretty well, and many people have good results with baking soda or even kitty litter set in the fireplace. The real problem is the air being drawn down the chimney, a symptom of overall pressure problems in the house. Some make-up air should be introduced somewhere else in the house. Also, in the summer, attic fans and air conditioners can cause a negative pressure in the house which causes air to be drawn down through the chimney and into the room. A tight sealing, top mounted damper will also reduce this air flow coming down the chimney.

Q: How can I stop my fireplace from smelling?

A: Here’s a list of things to try:

  1. Have your chimney cleaned. This will help a great deal, but it may not eliminate the smell entirely.
  2. Check for a flue cap, if you don’t have one, install one. It will keep the rain out. This will cut down on that “musty” smell. (It will also prevent water damage to the firebox, and it keeps birds & animals out too!)
  3. Use “Odor Stop”. Odor Stop is a fabric bag containing neutralizers which is placed in the fireplace to absorb odors. It is available through us. (It really works. I put one in my fireplace and haven’t smelled it since!)
  4. Deodorants, sprays, candles and other commercially available products can also help to cover up and absorb the odor.
  5. Open the damper and light the log lighter. This will help dry out the flue and reverse the draft temporarily.
  6. Open a window about an inch. This works especially well if the problem is caused by attic fans and air conditioners.