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Smelly house from unlit fireplace

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by chatnoir, Apr 26, 2006.

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  1. chatnoir

    chatnoir New Member

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    Hi,
    The house we are renting (in France) often smells strongly of smoke even though the fireplace is not lit and there is a glass screen pulled down in front of the hearth. It can last for a few hours or for many days - like this week. It smells like sausage smoke house and it hits you when you enter from outside ! There is no smoke to be seen, only the smell. The chimney and hearth is cleaned regularly. I wake up from the strong smell in the middle of the night sometimes. It gives me headaches and can be nauseating when particularly strong. The smell happens, it seems, on overcast and grey days, possibly due to low pressure in the air...? Downdraft ? Anyway, I need to know what could be the reason, if is dangerous to live with and how to fix it. The owners of the house just shrug their shoulders and tells me it is not serious. But I am not so sure..... It is definitely not fun to live with.
    Thanks for any advise you may be able to give me. :)

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  2. berlin

    berlin New Member

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    Mar 6, 2006
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    Loc:
    Western NY
    most likely a downdraft. i'm guessing that the fireplace is built on an exterior wall, if so, this is a very common problem and can really only be corrected with a very tight sealing damper. I'm sure other memebers will have a better knowlege of damper solutions such as certain ones that fit on the top of the flue to seal the chimney when not in use because most likely the original damper is obviously not sufficient. as far as the smell, yes it can be unpleasant, however, i can assure you there will be no serious health effects; however, it can be somewhat sickening as i have experienced this not in my own home but in other peoplss that have similar uncorrected situations due to the stench. very foolish to build a home with an exterior chimney for this among other reasons.
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    have the landlord clean the chimney baking soda could reduce the smell or odor
  4. count brewski

    count brewski New Member

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    seems to me everything in France has an odor.........
  5. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    I get the smell too, sometimes. Was thinking of stuffing a rag up inside the woodstove into the 4" rear exit pipe (burning is done for the season) but trying to make it idiot proof so I don't forget! I have no damper other than the leaky air control on the EPA stove. Maybe I can run a wire or string from the rag down and tie it to the door handle so opening the door starts to pull the rag out.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It's going to be hard to get the aroma completely out. My guess would be that it's been there for decades if not centuries. I like the idea of a cap for the flue if the landlord/lady is cooperative, but it will need to be pulled off in the fall. You could have a temporary block made up to fit the fireplace opening tightly. If you are creative you could paint it with some nice scene or des fleurs. Even a tight fitting piece of cardboard would help. What part of France? Is this a gite?
  7. chatnoir

    chatnoir New Member

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    Apr 26, 2006
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    Thank you all for great advise ! :lol:
    The fireplace is indeed on an outside wall. How clever of Berlin to realise. I am truly impressed !
    I will talk your suggestions over with the landlord. Hard to get any repairs to rented homes paid for by landlords in France. But there IS hope with my landlords, as they have actually spent time outside of France and are a bit more openminded and friendlier than the majority!
    As for the stench other than in my house.... well, you got it spot on, especially on a hot day on a full Metro or train .... and the dog poop everywhere you go !
    Thanks again all !
  8. mlouwho

    mlouwho New Member

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    Apr 23, 2006
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    This problem will be worse on humid days because the air is full of moisture, therefore heavier. It wants to sink to the lowest point, down your chimney is lower than your roof. A Lyemance top damper would seal the chimney so the humid air is not moving down it. That can help alot but costs about 2 - $300 installed. Try Chimney & Firplace Deodorant by Homesaver, works great cost about $6.00. You place the bottle in the fireplace when it is not burning, open the bottle and extend the wick. It absorbs the offensive smell.
  9. Bezalel

    Bezalel New Member

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    Just a wild suggestion ... can you temporarily remove the glass cover and seal the fireplace opening with heavy duty plastic sheet and duct tape? It may not look very nice, but with the glass cover back it place, it may be OK. At least it'll take care of the problem until the landlord do something about it.
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