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Plastic burning smell from fireplace

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by themayfield7, Nov 26, 2007.

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  1. themayfield7

    themayfield7 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3
    Loc:
    North Georgia
    Hello. We bought our home 1.5 yrs ago (it is 9 years old) and recently started using the fireplace. The prior owner installed gas logs and apparently the fireplace wasn't used much, if at all. We tried out the gas logs last winter, but they didn't warm the room and produced a plastic burning smell after about 30 - 45 minutes of burning. We assumed it was from the gas logs, as we had never had them before. This past summer I had the gas logs removed and had it fitted to burn real wood (which we prefer). The burning smell is still there and is incredibly strong once the fireplace heats up. The front of the fireplace has stonework and the smell is the strongest there - but quickly fills up the house. My husband thinks it might be from a material used to install the stonework. We would love to use our fireplace this winter, but are concerned about safety and the smell (it's unbearable!).

    Any thoughts on what this might be or how to remedy it? Your help is greatly appreciated.

    Warmly - Mom of 5

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,271
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Do you have a picture of the fireplace you can post?

    Can we assume this is a metal fireplace - what is called a prefab or zero clearance? If so, there are a number of possible reasons. First, see if you can remove either or both of the bottom or top louvers (if there are some) and see if any mess is in there. Also, it is quite common for a lot of dust and other building materials to be inside these (they often are accessible to install a blower)...

    Of course, check the damper to make certain it is opening and functioning properly!

    We have no way of know how much the fireplace was used. It is possible that certain materials like the paints on the inside and outside of the fireplace have never fully burned off! Also, your hubby may have a point there with the mastic that holds the stone on.

    Assuming the installation is correct, the best course of action might be to check and clean it, then burn it a couple of times with the doors and windows of the house open....to try and burn away the paint oils, etc. - and see if it is vastly reduced.
  3. themayfield7

    themayfield7 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3
    Loc:
    North Georgia
    Thank you so much for your reply!! I truly appreciate it. I tried to attach a photo several different ways, but had no success. I keep receiving the error message that the size of the attachment must not exceed 350 kb. If I find your email address, I'll try to email it to you. Any other suggestions on how to get the picture to you?

    Thanks a bunch!

    Warmly - Mom of 5

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  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    12,271
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    there is a whole section at the top of the picture forum which tells you how to make the pic smaller in size////OK, I posted it for yo.

    It is a ZC or Prefab fireplace and it may have been used lightly since the side panels look almost untouched. Perhaps just the gas logs which hardly produce any heat.

    If you can remove the bottom vent, you should clean in there. But for now, once you check the damper, I would still say to burn it fairly hot a number of times and see if the smell diminishes. What you smell may be paint oils as well as possibly some FG insulation inside the unit out-gassing.
  5. themayfield7

    themayfield7 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3
    Loc:
    North Georgia
    Thanks for your help with the picture! I'm somewhat technically challenged... We are going to take your advice and run several fires over the next week. Any idea how long it should take for the smell to diminish? Have you or anyone you know personally ever experienced this? Our old fireplace never had this problem.

    Again, thank you so much! Your expertise is greatly appreciated!

    Warmly - Mom of 5
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