House Smells Like Smoke From the Fireplace. What’s the Problem?

Do you often sense the smell of campfire in your house? Then, perhaps, it is time to check your fireplace!

Written by Camilla Moln. Updated on House Smells Like Smoke From the Fireplace. What’s the Problem

Having a fireplace is great! Especially in fall and winter when you can cozily sit in your favorite armchair and enjoy a cup of hot tea, coffee, or cocoa while being covered with a warm woolen plaid and listening to the calming crackle of fire.

However, the owners of fireplaces often complain that their houses become filled with quite an annoying scent of smell or something burns when the fireplace is on.

And if your house smells like smoke from the fireplace too, you might be wondering what was the reason.

Did you do anything wrong when burning it? Did you use the wrong logs? Is it just not working properly or broken?

Since a fireplace is a source of open fire inside of your house, it can be considered a potential fire hazard. This is why it is crucially important to always keep an eye on it and make sure that your fireplace is working properly.

So if you sense a smoky scent coming from your fireplace, and this is not the first time it happens, this article is exactly what you need right now!

Below, you will find information on what causes that smoky scent, as well as how to get rid of fireplace smoke smell in your house. Moreover, we will provide you with eight (!) different ways of dealing with this problem so that you could surely fix yours regardless of what caused it.

In addition, we will provide you with a few handy tips for cleaning and maintaining your fireplace and chimney. With all that in mind, you will be able to enjoy open fire in your fireplace without being worried about the possible consequences.

My House Smells Like Campfire! What Could Be the Reason?

My house smells like a campfire! Why is that?! This question often comes from the fireplace owners whose appliances suddenly start developing that smoky odor that fills their houses.

There are many different reasons why your indoor fireplace is smelling out your house or allowing smoke into the room.

If you have a freestanding woodfire stove in your home, you definitely always know when it is time to sweep the chimney since this is the most frequent reason for your fireplace being smelly. However, this is not the only reason!

Yes, if you have problems with the chimney, the smoke won’t draw up a chimney as it should if it is not frequently cleaned. Instead, smoke will come out of the fireplace door when you are lighting the fire or putting more wood on.

And if you keep on using a fireplace that needs its chimney to be swept, you will end up with that campfire-like smell all over your home! But except for seeping into your curtains, upholstery, and clothes, it can also become a serious fire hazard! So you should look after your chimney, as well as the firebox and glass, very carefully.

However, if you notice that your fireplace begins to emit a smoky odor each time you add wood or light it up, you should also consider alternative reasons.

For example, your indoor fireplace can produce smoky odor and let smoke into the house due to the downdraft from outside into the home. As a result, you will have a smell of creosote in your house.

What is that creosote, you may wonder? See, creosote is that black stuff that most of you come across when cleaning your chimneys. It tends to stick around the chimney cap most of all, but it often lines the entire flue as well.

In this case, the best option for stopping the smell from spreading around would be to apply a plywood cover inside your fireplace which will prevent any backdraft into the house.

This can fortunately be done in such a way that nobody will notice the cover from the room.

However, this is a common reason for the open fireplaces mostly. And what about the closed ones?

Well, the fireplace smell may come from a closed fireplace too, but only if the appliance was not shut tight enough! So always make sure that the seal on the fireplace door is tight.

My House Smells Like Campfire! What Could Be the Reason
Credits: Timothy Eberly, via

How to Tell That Your Chimney Needs Sweeping?

Since an improperly cleaned chimney is one of the major reasons why your fireplace emits smoky odor into your house, you should know how to define when it needs cleaning. And below, you can find five obvious signs that will tell you your chimney needs a good sweep!

  1. When adding wood or lighting the fire, smoke comes out of the door, rather than going up the chimney.
  2. It is difficult to light the fire and keep it going.
  3. Your fire is not putting out as much heat.
  4. Excessive creosote and soot is coming down into your fireplace.
  5. You see the signs that birds have built a nest in your chimney.

If you notice at least one of these signs, you should call professional chimney cleaners immediately to have the chimney unblocked!

How to Tell That Your Chimney Needs Sweeping
Credits: Addy Mae, via

Related: How Big Should Pilot Light Be on Gas Fireplace

How Often Shall I Sweep My Fireplace Chimney?

Of course, the most obvious and reasonable question a fireplace owner may ask is how often he or she is supposed to clean the chimney. Well, basically, there is no fixed answer to this question.

See, the frequency of cleaning will depend on the type of wood you are using for your fireplace, as well as how often it is being lit. However, as a rule of thumb, cleaning and sweeping your fireplace chimney twice a year is a must!

A fireplace and a chimney that is drawing well will keep the smoke away from your home, which is definitely better for your health!

However, if you are not burning seasoned wood (that’s the wood that does not have a high moisture content), your chimney will have to be cleaned more frequently.

In addition, those who have their fireplaces going all the time, and those who leave their fireplaces lit during the night may need to sweep their chimney way more often!

Finally, if you have a small wood stove, this appliance might need your attention and cleaning even more frequently because of the smaller stove pipes it has.

How Often Shall I Sweep My Fireplace Chimney
Credits: Isaac Martin, via

Related: How Much Propane Does a Gas Fireplace Use?

What Happens If the Chimney Is Not Swept?

Leaving your fireplace chimney dirty may end up with a much worse scenario than just a blocked chimney that will cost more to clean!

See, when you don’t clean your chimney once or better twice a year as you should, creosote and soot will keep on building up until the chimney does become blocked.

This may lead to a chimney fire, and not only to smoky and smelly rooms in your home.

This is why so many insurance companies require you to regularly sweep your fireplace’s chimney in order to remain covered for any possible damage that might be caused by a chimney fire.

How to Get a Smoke Smell Out of a Fireplace : Home Repair & MaintenanceHow to Get a Smoke Smell Out of a Fireplace : Home Repair & Maintenance

Related: How to Convert Manual Gas Fireplace to Remote?

How to Get Rid Of A Fireplace Smoke Smell In My House?

Of course, if your fireplace chimney is already blocked or covered with buildup from inside, the only way out is to clean it.

It will help you with the fireplace odor removal. Below, you will find eight different ways of how this can be done.

How to Get Rid Of A Fireplace Smoke Smell In My House
Credits: Element5 Digital, via

Inspect Your Fireplace

The source of that burnt smell in your house may be creosote which develops from dust, ashes, and dirt remaining after burning the wood. So check your fireplace and see whether there are ashes and dirt remaining.

After you investigate the fireplace, in case you do find old ashes and dirt, don’t make any delay to clean them up. And after the fireplace is cleaned up well, grab some vinegar and water, mix them in a jar, and wipe out the entire fireplace. It will remove the smoky odor.

Inspect Your Fireplace
Credits: Ostap Senyuk, via

Clean the Chimney

To get rid of smoke smells in your house, you might need to clean your fireplace chimney. See, when your fireplace is not being used (like in spring or summer), creosote tends to develop smelly buildup on its inside walls. This results in that unpleasant odor that fills your home.

So go for the chimney inspection and clean it to remove the odor. Also, check if your chimney has a rain cover.

Since if it has none, then the raindrops will roll down the chimney walls and make it moisturized and humidified, as well as the fireplace.

What you should do is to cover the chimney with a special cap. It will not only protect your chimney from rain, but also prevent birds, small animals, and rodents from getting into it.

Clean the Chimney
Credits: Andrew Ridley, via

maybe, Negative Air Pressure Must Be Fixed

If you sense a burning smell in your house, the cause might be the negative air pressure. To solve the negative air pressure problem, you need to find the cause.

The negative air pressure can happen inside the home for many reasons. Very first, it can happen because of the fatigue fan in the bathroom or kitchen.

Then, it can happen because of the duct leakage, combustion appliances, central vacuums, fan motor speed, off-balance heat recovery ventilators, windows, water heater, dryer, furnace installation, and any kind of home improvements like new roofing or room decoration.

maybe, Negative Air Pressure Must Be Fixed
Credits: Francesca Tosolini, via Unsplash. com

When the negative air pressure occurs inside the home, it needs extra air indoors. So, it pulls down the air to make up the negative one through the probable leaks or holes.

Here the chimney is a great source to pull down the air. And it comes with the odor or the smoke if you make the fire. Thus there lacks a source of fresh air inside your home.

To fix the issue, try one of the following solutions:

  1. Repair the duct leakage
  2. Change the exhaust kitchen or bathroom fan
  3. Fix the fan motor
  4. Seal the fireplace damper properly with a stainless-steel damper
  5. Optimize the ventilation

If none of these helps, invite a heating and air-conditioning expert to help you out.

maybe, Negative Air Pressure Must Be Fixed (2)
Credits: Krystal Black, via

Deodorize the House

If you have a smoky fireplace that needs to be cleaned, you should make an appointment and ask a professional to come and check it. However, it doesn’t mean you must tolerate that odor!

  • Mix 1:1 ratio vinegar and water and take it in the spray bottle. Then spritz in the window curtain, house wall, and fireplace area, then wipe down and thus deodorize.
  • Wet a towel dipping into vinegar and wave it all around the room. It will absorb the smoke odor from the fireplace.
  • Take baking soda or vinegar in a bowl and keep it inside the fireplace. It will take away the bad smell. But don’t forget to remove the bowl from the fireplace before the next fireplace use.
  • Place a box fan inside the window of the fireplace room and another fan outside the window, on the fans. The inside fan will out smokey air outside and the outside fan will push fresh air inside the room.
  • Finally sprinkle baking soda over carpet, sofa, blanket, and pillows and wait an hour. After that, vacuum up the powder repeatedly until the smoky smell is away.
Deodorize the House
Credits: Alim Huseynli, via

Burn Unburnt Wood

To get rid of nasty fireplace smells, burn the remaining coals as early as possible. And even before you start burning them, break the large chunks of coals and pile all the pieces in a place.

Then add a few pieces of charcoal, fire it, and let it burn completely.

When all the firewoods are burnt, clean up the ashes and wood perfectly. Then pulverize vinegar around the fireplace and close the glass door.

Burn Unburnt Wood
Credits: Michael Cummins, via

Use Fireplace Fragrance Oil

Using this oil is very simple. All you need to do is to pull up the wick in the bottle, and keep the bottle on the fireplace shelf for 5-60 days.

Surely it will eliminate smoke particles and bad odors from your fireplace and you will feel pretty good.

And remember, never allow the oil bottle near the fire as it’s burnable.

Use Fireplace Fragrance Oil
Credits: Mihai Lazăr, via

Install Air Purifier

You can also install an air purifier if you still feel the odor. It’s an exciting tool as it’s capable of cleaning the air and getting rid of you not only from odors and smoke but also from fireplace flue, dust, and pollutants.

And thus an air purifier will give you a fresh and pure home insider and improve your life radically.

Install Air Purifier
Credits: Zen Bear Yoga, via

Call a Professional Chimney Sweeper

If you can’t do all the above steps by yourself, you can call a professional home cleaner or chimney sweeper. As they are experts at doing all these cleaning jobs, they can instantly clean everything and fix the odor problem.

And for the permanent solution, you can clean up your home and fireplace with a professional sweeper 2 times annually.

With these tips and recommendations, your home will never smell like smoke or campfire again since now you are aware of what causes that odor and how to get rid of it quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ My fireplace smells when it rains. What’s wrong?

Rain gets into the chimney and fireplace making them wet and smelly.

⭐ Our house is filled with smoke but there’s no fire. What’s wrong?

Check your chimney. It may emit the odor.

⭐ Does a wood burning fireplace make your house smell?

Yes, it does.

Written by
Camilla is an experienced Consultant with more than 20 years of preparing professional articles for numerous online resources. She has done a tremendous job and has learned a lot during her career. Camilla will advise you on the latest trends and give amazing tips on how to decorate a house.
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