Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Santa's Friend Chimney Service Blog

Stinky Chimneys

During the summer, the last thing on the minds of many homeowners is their fireplace, but when unpleasant odors start to invade their homes from the chimney through the fireplace, it can become a big concern.
Our staff at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service frequently receives calls from our customers complaining about stinky chimneys, and we have years of experience with dealing with this issue. We would like to tell you more about the sources of these unpleasant smells and what we can do to prevent this stinky situation from happening to your home.

CREOSOTEStinky Chimney - Jackson MS - Santas Friend Chimney Service

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you most likely know that creosote is a natural compound that forms during the combustion process of burning wood. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) often warns the public of the dangers of accumulated creosote inside a chimney because it is the biggest cause of chimney fires. Not only is creosote extremely flammable, but it also releases a strong and acrid odor during the hot and humid months of summer. To prevent creosote from stinking up your home this year, Santa’s Friend Chimney Service recommends scheduling a spring chimney sweeping and inspection.
Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps will take great care to be sure every bit of creosote has been removed from your chimney to reduce your risk of a fire and of a stinky smell invasion of your house.


Without a chimney cap on top of your chimney, water from rain can get into your chimney very easily. This water lands on the smoke shelf, where it creates a musty odor. Very often, leaves and other debris also fall into your chimney to mix with the pooled water on the smoke shelf, and this will cause a rotting, decomposing smell inside your chimney. Santa’s Friend Chimney Service offers a variety of chimney caps, and our chimney experts can professionally install a cap on top of your chimney to protect it from water leaks. This will also keep leaves and other debris from getting into the chimney as well.


Another problem that can occur to an uncapped chimney that can cause unpleasant odors is birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other wild animals nesting inside your chimney. The droppings and nesting materials of these critters are stinky enough, but there is also the possibility of a bird or animal becoming trapped inside the chimney and dying. You can imagine how horrible a dead animal can smell. The best way to prevent birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other wild animals from getting inside your chimney is to have a good quality chimney cap with mesh metal sides installed on top of your chimney. Santa’s Friend Chimney Service is happy to show you the options we have to protect your chimney from wild animal invasions.

Keep your home smelling sweet this summer. Contact us at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service today to schedule a professional chimney sweeping and inspection.

By Jim Robinson on May 24th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Why Is My Chimney So Smelly?

Every summer, Santa’s Friend Chimney Service receives many calls from our customers about stinky chimneys. A few things can cause chimney odors, and the heat and humidity of summer can intensify these unpleasant smells that can enter your home through the chimney and fireplace system. Our chimney technicians have years of experience of dealing with stinky chimneys and fireplaces and know how to get rid of any bad odors from your hearth. We would like to tell you more about what causes chimneys that are smelly enough to affect the living spaces of your home.

Negative Air Pressure - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend

Image by Kimbar under the Creative Commons license.

Negative Air Pressure

The reason why unpleasant odors enter your home through the fireplace and chimney has to do with negative air pressure. Sealing up a home too tightly when you weatherize for the summer to keep the cold air inside your home causes smoky air to enter your home from the fireplace instead of exiting out the chimney. Santa’s Friend Chimney Service can solve negative air pressure problems by installing a top-sealing damper to promote proper air circulation.


According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), creosote forms naturally as a result of the combustion and condensation processes that occur when burning wood. Consisting of amorphous carbon, creosote sticks to the interior walls of your chimney and can accumulate into large deposits. Not only are these deposits extremely flammable, but they also emit a sour odor that is made worse by heat and humidity. The CSIA-certified chimney sweeps from Santa’s Friend Chimney Service can remove all of the creosote deposits that have built up inside your chimney during a professional chimney sweep, which will alleviate odor problems.

Other Causes

Water leaking into your chimney from rain and melted snow can create musty odors. To keep moisture from entering your chimney and causing unpleasant smells, Santa’s Friend Chimney Service can install a chimney cap on the top of your chimney. A chimney cap can also prevent another cause of unpleasant chimney odors: birds and animals. Without a chimney cap, birds and animals can easily get inside your chimney to nest. Debris from their nesting materials can smell badly, and even worse, a bird or animal could become trapped inside your chimney and possibly die. This worst case scenario can result in extremely unpleasant odors within your chimney that could affect the living spaces in your home.

If you have a smelly chimney, contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service to allow us to improve the situation by dealing with what is causing the unpleasant odors.

By Jim Robinson on June 13th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

What’s Blocking Your Chimney?

A clogged up chimney flue can mean big trouble. Make sure there's nothing blocking your chimney by having it swept.

A clogged up chimney flue can mean big trouble. Make sure there’s nothing blocking your chimney by having it swept.

A fireplace can be a wonderful addition to any room in the house where the family might gather, providing warmth, light, and a cozy ambiance. However, a fireplace system has to be carefully maintained to make sure that they common problems that affect chimneys don’t impact the safety and beauty of your family’s favorite gathering spot. We as homeowners owe it to ourselves to remain constantly vigilant as far as the condition of any part of our homes are concerned. Like every appliance or piece of furniture we own, a chimney requires just as much attention; one could even argue that it requires more attention.

The Dangers of Creosote Buildup

So what exactly is creosote, and why is it dangerous to allow it to accumulate inside your chimney? Creosote is a sticky chemical residue that forms when wood is burned at low temperatures and is capable of building up to dangerous levels within your chimney. More creosote is formed from burning unseasoned softwoods in your fireplace than properly seasoned hardwoods. The residue begins as unburned oil in the form of gas; as it moves up the chimney, the oils build up into a coating inside the chimney as they begin to cool. This buildup is extremely flammable!

The residue can become quite thick over the course of a single season. Depending on the internal dimensions of your chimney, this can really restrict the flow of air, which can cause smoke to build up in the fireplace as well as in your home. This reduced airflow can also cause cooler burning fires because they’re not able to get the requisite amount of oxygen for increased combustion; all of this results in, you guessed it, more creosote buildup in your chimney. It becomes dangerous when it is allowed to accumulate in your chimney, as it becomes a fuel source for a possible chimney fire. The build up of creosote cannot be avoided completely, however, burning small, hot fires and using dry, seasoned wood can minimize the buildup.

There’s a What Living in my Chimney!?

If you are hearing noises in your chimney it may be one of two situations: a wild animal (such as a raccoon) is using your chimney as a den; or an animal (such as a squirrel or a bird) has fallen down the chimney and cannot get back up. Under absolutely no circumstances should you try to smoke an animal out of your chimney – you will only succeed in burning and/or killing the animal! Wild animals frequently mistake uncapped chimneys for hollow trees, and they have no idea that the “tree” is connected to your home! In contrast to hollow trees, however, the inside of a chimney is quite slippery, and raccoons seem to be the only animals capable of climbing up and down it.

One way to tell the difference between a denning animal (raccoon) and an animal that’s stuck (squirrel or bird) is by listening to the noise that the animal makes. An animal that is stuck is often frantic, and will scratch at the damper or flap its wings repeatedly in an effort to get out. If the damper is not closed, the animal may fall down into the fireplace, and even if he is able to get back up above the damper or onto the smoke shelf, it is important to recognize that this animal is unable to climb the entire length of the chimney. On the other hand, if the animal is using the chimney as a den site you may occasionally hear movement, as well as the sounds of wild animal babies calling out to their mother. The noises follow a more predictable pattern, and often occur only a certain times of the day.

While the firebox of your beloved fireplace can be easily seen and therefore monitored, the chimney itself commonly faces a number of troubles that are often caught only by a chimney professional during the annual chimney system inspection and sweeping. These things will help to ensure the safety and continued functionality of your fireplace and chimney for many years to come. You can always come to Santa’s Friend Chimney Service with any of your questions or needs. Our staff is always here to help.

Getting the Gunk Out

Watch Out for Creosote

There’s just something about fireplaces and chimneys during the winter season that draw you in, again and again. The chill in your bones dissolves into the blissful crackle and pop of a roaring fire. But, if you built that fire with green or wet wood, you’d also have a smoky fire and a rapid buildup of creosote. It is a natural by-product of burning, but when the creosote isn’t regularly removed, it becomes a real concern.

Creosote or a substance commonly known as soot is formed through the condensation of gases and incomplete combustion of wood particles. It is found in your chimney flues and areas in the stone masonry and the four walls of your chimney. It is identified as silky black or dark brown dust.  This is formed by the specific element in creosote which is carbon (doubles the flammability level of creosote) and is also composed of ash which is non-combustible.

We are experienced in identifying and removing creosote from your chimney. Have you had your annual inspection?

We are experienced in identifying and removing creosote from your chimney. Have you had your annual inspection?

Thick formation of creosote is otherwise known as glaze. This is ten times more flammable than typical low-level creosote. This can accumulate a great amount of fuel to burn and is more difficult to remove compared to subtle amounts of creosote.

There are a few reasons why this exists; it might be that enough supplemental heat has already been provided and too much smoke is occupying your room rather than going up the chimney flues. When there is too much soot build-up in the chimneys, this might trigger blazing fires to erupt and destroy your homes in a matter of seconds. The formation of carbon monoxide is not far from the picture and can poison the people in your home and cause unfortunate accidents as well.

Sure enough, you wouldn’t want this dangerous chimney deposit to ruin your home. So it’s best to have your chimney and fireplace checked annually.  This is to control and remove the build-up of creosote and to prepare your chimney for heavy duty work during the winter season. The best and only option for the people of Mississippi is Santa’s Friend Chimney Service. After over twenty-four years of service, we are glad to offer you professional service and peace of mind.

By Jim Robinson on November 30th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Getting Your Wood Stove Ready During Summer

Keep Your Wood Stove Clean

Summer is the time to get your wood stove ready cooler nights. During the seasons of heavier use, your wood stove should be cleaned out at least once a month. However, in warmer months, it is time to schedule a certified sweep to take a look at the parts of your stove you aren’t trained to inspect or clean. An unclean wood stove is not only messier and hazardous, it is also inefficient.

Keep Wood Stove Clean - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Keep Wood Stove Clean – Jackson MS – Santa’s Friend Chimney Service

Let’s start with the most important reason why you need to regularly clean your wood stove and chimney — safety. According to the EPA nearly 7% of house fires are a result of creosote buildup in your chimney. Creosote is the unburned remainder of gases and is highly flammable. If you burn anything other than dry, seasoned wood, you increase the amount and the frequency with which the creosote accumulates. This includes any type of paper. A certified sweep will let you know if the layer of creosote in your chimney must be removed. Believe it or not, any more than one-quarter inch is perilous.

Now you are ready to clean the stove…what do you need? Here is a good checklist:

  • A drop cloth or newspapers to protect your floor.
  • Old newspapers or paper towels for glass cleaning
  • Gloves to protect your hands while cleaning.
  • Small brush for ash
  • Small ash shovel to scoop out the ashes.
  • Metal ash container to collect the ashes in for disposal later. Make sure the ash is well-cooled before removal.
  • Spray bottle containing a vinegar, water, and soap solution, two parts water to one part vinegar with a squeeze of dish soap.
  • Dust mask to protect yourself from breathing in ash.
  • A fireplace ash vacuum is great, but not necessary. A household vacuum isn’t recommended. You can use fireplace ash in your garden if distributed evenly and lightly.

Hiring a sweep to clean out your stove pipe will ensure that creosote doesn’t become a fire or health hazard for your family. Remember to always follow any directions provided with your wood stove. Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand for emergencies. You are on your way to toasty rooms in winter and a worry-free mind.

By Jim Robinson on July 28th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Protecting Your Home from Creosote Build-Up

At this time of year, when fireplace use is finally slowing and coming to a halt, creosote buildup raises two issues. First, whatever creosote is inside your flue, contact with moisture is going to make the fumes it produces much worse. Secondly, simply shutting those smells out of your house by closing the damper does not solve the greater issue.

Stage 3 Creosote - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

Image courtesy of Dennis Lamb, Owner, The Mad Hatter Chimney Service in Indianapolis, IN.

Build-Up Stinks

Generally speaking, when you can smell something inside your house, it is time to really do something about it! For many of us, the solution is to throw the smelly item away or clean up the mess. However, a smelly chimney is just a bit more involved.

Many of us like to be able to use the chimney as the vent it is. That means a damper left open and a cap on top which naturally improves the chimney’s draft and keeps water out. Neither one is safely possible with creosote buildup greater than ¼” of SOOT or 1/8of later stage creosote.

…And It’s Bad For Your Chimney’s ‘Skin’

Every chimney cap will do a lot to keep wind gusts that cause downdrafts out of your chimney. It makes no sense at all, however, to cap a flue that contains unacceptable amounts of creosote. The longer that creosote stays in your flue, the more damage it does, which is the second type of harm you need to prevent.

Not only does creosote emit toxic fumes, unnecessarily exposing you to harmful carbon monoxide, but it is corrosive. Furthermore, the greater its accumulation, the more difficult it is to remove and the more dangerous it becomes. Protecting your home from creosote build-up means not allowing it to accumulate to any significant amount. When buildup is noticed, it is time to call a CSIA certified chimney sweep to take care of this problem.

By Jim Robinson on May 4th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment