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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    175

    Fireplace odor in the house, please for my sanity help me!

    Hello everyone, yes fireplace dilemma in the summer. First, let me say is has been extremely HUMID here in the Northeast. Here's the deal.
    1) 2 story home
    2) 1st floor has fireplace
    3) 2nd floor bedroom has fireplace. This room is above the room with the other fireplace.
    4) House has an oil burner.
    5) All have their own flues, all in one chimney stack.

    PROBLEM:
    On these hot/humid days and other days for that matter, the house can smell like fireplace(sooty smell for the lack of better words). The first floor(den) we can deal with it. The 2nd. floor fireplace is in a bedroom, and it smells there also. So, flue closed, no good. Bought and installed a draft pillow, can still smell. Ok, so now I bought and installed a damper on the top of the chimney. Just went into the room and I thought I smelled something. So, I open the fireplace and it was pretty warm in the "firebox". Still smell in the firebox. Thoughts, advice? THANKS!

    PS: Sorry for the long post!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    Is there an ash cleanout that could be leaking odors in from the bottom?

    Get a piece of foam insulation board and cut it to the opening and tape it in there sealing it up 100%?

    Call a chimney sweep / expert to do a thorough cleaning.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    175
    First, thanks for the reply. I have a draft pillow in there which is sealing it up. Also, I had a sweep come in and do a cleaning. Not sure what is supposed to be performed during a sweep, but it didn't really help. Thanks!
    EDIT: I'm pretty sure I have cleaned the ash clean out.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Altmar, New York, United States
    Posts
    5,121
    Quote Originally Posted by sandman512 View Post
    First, thanks for the reply. I have a draft pillow in there which is sealing it up. Also, I had a sweep come in and do a cleaning. Not sure what is supposed to be performed during a sweep, but it didn't really help. Thanks!
    EDIT: I'm pretty sure I have cleaned the ash clean out.
    did they just clean it or did they inspect it? visably how does the chimney look? any cracks? does it have a chase built around it? how old is it?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,638
    do you have fresh air change? How much? Preferably make-up air to offset depresrurization by the clothes drier and other exhausts devices.
    REgards TB
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Posts
    2,176
    House is no doubt under negative pressure and drawing through the chimney. You need to have a professional come in and analyze the building envelope. Possibly a blower door test.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    The midwest.
    Posts
    663
    Do you have an attic fan? They can cause a negitive in the house.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    2,609
    I had a musty smell from our chimney, had the cement cap replaced with white portland cement, mixed with a little Thompsons water seal, cap. After about six weeks smell went away and never came back. BTW our fireplaces are rarely used, so we wouldn't have a sooty smell.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    175
    Sorry for the delay, was on vacation with the family in Canada. Very nice there. Anyway, left the A/C on 85 while we were gone. Came home and there it was in my sons room, the sooty/humid smell. Now, this was after I installed the damper and the draft balloon. So, there it is. Once again, thanks much for the advice, THANKS!


    Quote Originally Posted by Todd S 2 View Post
    Do you have an attic fan? They can cause a negitive in the house.
    There is a fan in the attic, it is a small one that came with the house.
    Goes on when the temp., reaches a certain point.

    Quote Originally Posted by phbsales View Post
    House is no doubt under negative pressure and drawing through the chimney. You need to have a professional come in and analyze the building envelope. Possibly a blower door test.
    What is a good way to locate a reputable professional chimney sweep. Unfortunately, where I live there are a lot of "fly by night" scammers here.

    Quote Originally Posted by teddy bear View Post
    do you have fresh air change? How much? Preferably make-up air to offset depresrurization by the clothes drier and other exhausts devices.
    REgards TB
    TB, not sure what you mean by fresh air exchange? Thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    2,609
    Do you have a crawl space with a gas line? Got a call some 25 years ago, I'll never forget. Lightening had struck their propane tank, the copper line in the crawl space split and ignited. It charred the wood, and put out soot that crept thru the floor boards. This had been going on for months. It was a miracle the whole place didn't go up.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    175
    No crawl space here. No gas either.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    175
    Update. Went into the attic and and disconnected the attic fan(small attic exhaust fan). So far, problem solved. No more smell. Now, my big question, does it matter not having an attic fan? Thanks!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    Good question. We always tell people they cause neg pressure and are bad for fireplaces, but I have yet to actually meet someone who has one. Where I live I don't think they are used at all.

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