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Mary Weilert
Fireplace Smell

Someone please help me! We just bought a house in the country. When we looked at the house, we did not notice a fireplace smell. However, we moved in and turned on the air conditioning and ***, it was bad! We had to turn off the air conditioning. A chimney sweep came and cleaned the fireplace for $195. Then, he told us we had to have an insert. We took his advice. He installed a unit for $2,400 plus $350 in accessories. It made the problem worse. He would told me he would refund the money if I checked with an air conditioning repair man, and he could not fix the problem. I had two heating and cooling men here. No one could solve the problem. The chimney sweep came and took out the unit, which I found out was not installed with a liner to the roof, which was a fire hazard. Also, the AC man came back and said the chimney was not properly cleaned. The chimney man will not refund my money as promised, and the AC man says he doesn't know how to fix my problem. I need someone to help. We live in a small town, and I can't find another chimney sweep. People from Joplin, Mo will come and clean my fireplace only if I buy a new insert. I have spent almost $3,0000. I need help!!!!! I don't know whether to by an new insert and take a chance it will work or not.

Re: Fireplace Smell

If it makes any difference,I have always had a slight draft down my chimney on hot days when the A/C is on. It is no worse of a smell then when I am using the fireplace in the winter,so it does not bother me.
I'm no expert but I don't know if it could be 100% fixed if the fireplace is not blocked off.

Re: Fireplace Smell

you need a better hvac guy. I am a chimney sweep and although it sounds like your sweep was a real hack no amount of cleaning will totally eliminate the smell if there is a negative pressure situation in the house. you need to find a hvac guy who can balance the system by introducing outside air into the house. and you are right an insert should never be installed with out a line to the top of the chimney and it should also be insulated. but if you have a large amount of negative pressure an insert will not fix the smell and it will also never burn right in the winter it will always be starved for air of even smoke back into the house.

Re: Fireplace Smell

a top sealing damper may help the smell because they seal much tighter than the normal throught dampers in most fireplaces.

Re: Fireplace Smell

My first home had a very similar problem.

It was solved by adding venting to the basement which eliminated the un-balanced air pressures.

You need a better HVAC person.

Re: Fireplace Smell

Unless the insert seals well, another one won't solve the problem. Nor will cleaning the chimney as there will always be some residue in there if you use the fireplace. Unless you can create a seal somewhere between the fireplace opening and the top of the chimney you're going to have to approach this as a HVAC issue. I would not be surprised to find leakage in the supply side somewhere, which if the return air wasn't leaking equally would cause a negative-pressure situation and draw air from the easiest location- your unsealed fireplace.

A stop-gap that might help somewhat would be some fireplace doors. They wouldn't seal enough to completely stop the airflow but they might reduce it to a more tolerable level. You can 'test-drive' that idea easily by placing styrofoam sheeting, plywood, or anything similar against the fireplace opening and held in place temporarily however you can do that. Good fireplace doors will seal a little less than this so if the help is marginal in the experiment it may not work out for you.

And get with a Lawyer to see what it takes to get your money back from the Chimney Sweep. If your State has a small-claims court, they will usually help you through the process or at least tell you how to start it. Small claims usually has little cost and no lawyers involved and it is a lot less formal than higher courts. That will likely get you more of your money back faster than filing suit in Civil court does.


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