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I have an approx 75 yr old house with 2 fireplaces. They were originally wood burning, but have been converted to gas. They both have gas log arrangements, and the fake 'ash' material in the bottom.
Every time we have a fire, the fireplace emits a strange odor. Not a gas smell, and not necessarily a burning smell. More of a chemical odor. It drives my wife crazy. I try to explain that just because something has an odor, it is not necessarily dangerous. I use the example of an Indian restaurant. The kitchen has a strong aroma, but it is not a danger. However, I do not want to ignore something that could really be hazardous to us and our family.
It is worse in the lower level, where the room has a low ceiling, and not a lot of fresh air coming in, but now it is becoming more noticable in our upstairse fireplace where there is plenty of air circulation.
I do not know how long it has been since the chimneys were cleaned, not since we moved in 2 1/2 years ago, but I didn't think that was so important on gas fireplaces, where there is no soot being generated, and no burning embers drifting up the chimney shaft.
I have CO detectors throughout the house, and have never had one go off.
Do you think it is the function of having dirty chimneys? Could old soot be burning off, and would this create a chemical smell? If it is burning creosote wouldn't that be carcinogenic? I don't know what it could be. We are going to get the chimneys cleaned as soon as we can get someone out here, because we love the look and the heat from the fireplaces, but it is too much for my wife to handle.
If anyone can confirm if a dirty chimney is the likely culprit, or if they have any other ideas of what it could be, input will be grealty appreciated.
Thank you so much for your help, and Happy Holidays.