Stinky, Smoky Chimney? Smoke & Odor Solutions Are Only A Phone Call Away

Is your fireplace stinking up your home or smoking out your family? We can help. We’ll thoroughly investigate your system until we find the root cause of your smoke or odor issues and provide you with a lasting and effective solution.

What’s That Smell?

When you have damp or unpleasant smells coming from your fireplace, everyone’s favorite room can quickly become everyone’s favorite room to steer clear of. So what’s causing the odors? Here are the most common culprits:

  • Creosote — We’re advocates for removing creosote (a flammable and corrosive byproduct of combustion) for several reasons, but you can add odor to that list. If you don’t have your chimney cleaned at the end of every burn season, when summer hits and the temperatures and humidity levels rise, any creosote inside will start to stink to high heaven. A good cleaning should eliminate the problem.
  • WaterChimney leaks can cause extensive and expensive damage, but another common result is mildew/fungus growth inside of the chimney and fireplace. If the odor you’re smelling is more musty, damp, or mildewy, you likely have a moisture problem. In these instances, we’ll want to perform a thorough inspection of the chimney to pinpoint water entry points. We’ll also assess the damage so we can make the necessary repairs and prevent future leaks.
  • Animals/birds — If you don’t have a chimney cap at the top of your flue, an animal or bird could be the cause of the odor you’re smelling. Birds and small animals can enter an uncapped chimney, bringing feces, nesting materials, and other odor-causing debris in with them. Likewise, these little critters can get stuck inside of the chimney and die there, which can cause a smell unlike any other. If animals or birds are the root cause of your chimney odors, we’ll remove them, clean the chimney, and install a new cap to prevent future problems.
Smoke and odor - chimney smoking on terra cotta roof

What’s With The Smoke?

Commonly, smoke issues can be traced back to one of the following:

  • Blockage in the flue — In order to effectively remove smoke when you have a fire going, the chimney must be free of blockages and buildup. We’ll inspect your chimney using video scanning equipment to make sure there are no nesting materials, leaves, broken flue tiles, or other blockages inside that are preventing the proper elimination of smoke — and if there are, we’ll remove them.
  • Flue sizing issue — Sometimes the issue comes down to size. If the fireplace opening is too big for the flue liner, smoke will linger and flow back into the home. If that’s what’s causing your smoke issues, we may recommend a smoke guard or a new chimney liner.
  • Stuck or broken damper — You simply can’t enjoy a fire in your fireplace without a fully opened damper. If your damper is stuck or broken, smoke problems are inevitable. In these instances, we’ll recommend either a damper repair or the installation of a new top-sealing damper, which is designed to provide a better seal when closed, prevent downdrafts, and save you money on utilities.
  • Flaw in the chimney design — If the chimney isn’t tall enough to achieve proper draft, it will have a difficult time pulling all the smoke produced by the fire up and out of the home. In these cases, we may opt to extend the chimney or install a chimney fan or draft-inducing cap at the top of the chimney.
  • Green/unseasoned wood — Wood that contains more moisture (green wood or unseasoned wood) will naturally produce more smoke than dry wood when burned. More smoke doesn’t just mean a less enjoyable fireside experience, it also means more creosote production, which is why it’s important that you only burn properly seasoned wood. For tips on how to pick firewood, check out this resource from the CSIA.
  • Inadequate combustion air/air pressure issues — Modern homes are designed to save energy, which means they’re less drafty. If smoke is coming in through a fireplace or other appliance not being used when you have a fire going, the problem is likely due to inadequate combustion air/air pressure issues. What happens in these cases is that air is pulled in through the fireplace or appliance not being used, and because the flue is likely close by (or even in the same chimney as) the flue being used to vent the smoke, it’s pulling that smoke back down into the home. In these cases, we may recommend installing a top-sealing damper at the top of the flue that’s drawing in the smoke.

Don’t let smoke or odor problems run you out of the house — call The Chimney Doctor at 901-388-8097. Our team of licensed & insured chimney technicians will get to the bottom of your problem and fix it fast. Wherever you are in the greater Memphis area, you can count on us to make it easy to enjoy a safer, more pleasant home — call or reach out to us online to schedule an appointment today!


When you’re looking for chimney and fireplace construction and repairs, you won’t go wrong by calling our skilled technicians for help with these special chimney and fireplace services.


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