Why Does My Fireplace Smell Like Burning Plastic? 9 Reasons

If you’ve ever lit a fire in your fireplace and noticed that it smells like burnt plastic, you may be wondering what’s going on. Unfortunately, this is a common problem experienced by many fireplace owners, but there could be several reasons your fireplace has this smell.

Identifying the cause of the smell can help you take steps to restore your fireplace so that it burns safely and without releasing any stinky odors.

The Most common causes of the burning plastic smell in the fireplace are:

  1. First Use of a New Fireplace.
  2. Paint from the Stove or the Piping is burning.
  3. Improperly Installed Chimney Flue Liner.
  4. Piece of Plastic, New Furniture or Paint Near the Fireplace.
  5. Creosote Build Up in the fireplace.
  6. Leaky Flue Pipe of the gas fireplace.
  7. Electric fireplace Wires and elements heat up.
  8. Using Ventless Gas Fireplace.
  9. Burning Plastic or Other Synthetic Materials.

Read this comprehensive guide to learn more about why your fireplace might smell like burning plastic in detail and how you can fix the problems.

Why does My Fireplace Smell like Burning Plastic?

The Possible Causes of the Burning Plastic Smell in your fireplace are:

Reason#1: First Use of a New Fireplace

The first time you use a new fireplace can be an exciting experience. However, it may also come with an odor that smells like burning plastic, usually due to some of the materials used to construct the fireplace being burned for the first time.

Usually, this smell should dissipate after a few burning rounds and have no long-lasting adverse effects on your home.

Ventilate the area before using your chimney for the first time to prevent the smell from remaining in your room for a long time.

Reason#2: Paint from the Stove or the Piping is Burning.

The acrid smell of burnt plastic can be one of the most unpleasant odors to experience, and it often occurs when paint from the stove or piping is curing due to an overheated surface.

Unfortunately, the scent of burning plastic is a sure sign that something has gone wrong while completing a project, as it typically indicates that the paint has hardened too quickly and has begun to become charred.

Stove or piping curing smell will go away with regular use once all the paint inside the stove burns completely.

Proper ventilation and reduced heat levels can help to overcome this problem.

Reason#3: Improperly Installed Chimney Flue Liner

If you smell a strong odor of plastic or cotton burning when the fireplace is in use, this could indicate that the chimney flue liner has been improperly installed.

A properly installed flue liner will significantly reduce the smoke and foul odors produced by your fireplace. It also prevents smoke and other chemicals from entering your home, which can be hazardous to the homeowner’s health.

Make sure to get regular inspections and maintenance to ensure your chimney flue liner is functioning properly and reduce any unpleasant odors from your fireplace.

wood fireplace

Reason#4: Plastic Material, New Furniture or Paint Near the Fireplace

While decorating a room, the fireplace is often an area of focus. Unfortunately, this can lead to potential hazards when you place or decorate your stove with Plastic, paint or wooden frames.

Certain plastic materials heat up slowly and give off an unpleasant odor that may spread throughout your room.

Never place Plastic, polythene made material, new furniture and painted objects near your fire spot.

This could not only cause a detracting smell but also lead to damage over time.

Reason#5: Creosote Build Up in the fireplace.

Creosote buildup in fireplaces is a common problem that can cause severe issues if left unaddressed. The creosote is usually made from burning wood or gas in the stove regularly.

Not only does this buildup lead to dangerous chimney fires, but it also causes an unpleasant smell in the house.

It’s easy to prevent creosote buildup in the wood stoves by cleaning it regularly and inspecting it properly.

Reason#6: Leaky Flue Pipe of gas fireplace

When it comes to bad and stinky smells, the first suspect is often a leaky flue pipe of a gas fireplace. The piping that carries toxic fumes out of the home should be checked regularly to ensure it’s properly working.

A crack or break in these pipes can lead to an influx of smelly, dangerous gases into the household while acting as a health hazard. Fortunately, regular maintenance and pipe repair can remedy this problem and prevent gas fireplace smells.

Reason#7: Wires and elements heat up of electric fireplace.

The electric fireplace is a great way to bring warmth and ambiance to your home, but it’s essential to be aware that its wiring and elements can heat up and create an unpleasant burning smell.

This happens when the insulation on the wires starts to disintegrate due to long-term use or electrical overload.

The resulting odor may be mild and infrequent but should not go unnoticed as it can indicate a safety hazard that needs attention; faulty or damaged wires can spell disaster.

To avoid any problems, maintain your electric fireplace regularly, checking all of its elements for potential signs of wear and tear.

room fireplace

Reason#8: Ventless Gas Fireplace

Ventless gas fireplaces increase the risk of carbon monoxide buildup and release all sorts of stinky smells in your living space. Some homeowners have reported a foul odor issue like burning cloth, cotton and plastic in their fireplaces.

Considering installing ventless fireplaces, it’s essential to weigh out all pros and cons first.

Reason#9: Burning Plastic or Other Synthetic Materials

Burning chemically treated wood plastic or other synthetic materials in your fireplace can harm your health, emitting airborne toxins that spread in the entire house and may cause respiratory problems.

It also produces foul-smelling smoke and an acrid smell in the wood burning fireplace that quickly fills the room and lingers for hours afterward.

Not only is this smell unpleasant, but it can also cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. The poor air quality from burning plastic is bad for you, your family, and the animals in the space.

For these reasons, it is essential to ensure that any material you burn in your fireplace is safe.

Is It Dangerous If Your Fireplace Smells Like Burning Plastic?

The plastic burning smell from a fireplace is not something to ignore. It can indicate that dangerous gases are building up inside the chimney and could pose a severe fire hazard.

If you notice this smell, it’s essential to have the fireplace and chimney inspected by a professional as soon as possible.

The professional will be able to diagnose the cause of the smell and provide a solution to ensure that your fireplace is safe for use.

fireplace smell

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Why Does My Fireplace Smell Like Burning Plastic?

Is it normal for the fireplace to smell?

It is usual for a fireplace to have a slight odor when used, especially for the first time or after a season gap. The smell usually results from burning any debris that may have accumulated in the chimney over the summer.

However, if the smell is strong or persists, it could indicate a problem, such as creosote buildup in the chimney, burning plastic or other materials, or a leak. In such cases, a professional must inspect the fireplace to determine the cause of the odor and take appropriate action.

How long does the fireplace smell last?

Usually, a smell caused due to a newly installed fireplace or using it after a long time will last with in 2-4 hours once the dust and debris inside the fireplace burn completely. Keep your room ventilated during this period to ensure the entrench of fresh air.

What should you not burn in a fireplace?

It is important to remember not to put anything other than wood or manufactured fuel logs into the fireplace.

  • Do not burn treated wood, construction scraps, plastic, paper products (such as newspapers or wrapping paper), or cardboard in your fireplace. These materials can create dangerous fumes and contaminants that can affect your health.
  • Burning garbage should also be avoided, as this can create a hazardous environment. Burning these materials also has the potential to damage your home and put you at risk for house fires.
  • Never use accelerants such as gasoline or kerosene to light a fire in the fireplace. These substances are highly flammable and dangerous inside an enclosed area like a fireplace.
  • Charcoal is also not recommended, as it can produce deadly carbon monoxide gas and cause the temperature in the room to rise quickly.
  • Never attempt to burn hazardous materials such as paint, aerosol cans, or pressurized containers in your fireplace. These items contain dangerous chemicals that can be released into the air when burned and explode, which may lead to severe injury or damage to your home.

Safety Tips for Using Gas Fireplaces

gas fireplace
  1. Have the gas fireplace inspected and cleaned by a licensed professional annually to ensure it is in good working condition.
  2. Ensure that the gas fireplace is adequately ventilated to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
  3. Keep flammable materials, such as curtains, furniture, and rugs, at least three feet away from the fireplace to prevent fires.
  4. Only use the type of fuel the manufacturer recommends for your specific gas fireplace.
  5. Regularly check the gas line and connections for leaks using a soapy solution. If you detect a leak, turn off the gas and contact a professional immediately.
  6. Only use the gas fireplace in an enclosed space with proper ventilation.
  7. Keep a fire extinguisher near the gas fireplace in case of emergency.
  8. Please familiarize yourself with the gas shut-off valve and how to turn it off in an emergency.
  9. Keep the controls for the gas fireplace accessible and in good working order.
  10. Keep children and pets away from the fire.

Safety Tips for Using Electric Fireplaces

  1. Keep flammable materials, such as curtains, furniture, and rugs, at least three feet away from the electric fireplace to prevent fires.
  2. Only use the electric fireplace with a properly grounded outlet and never with an extension cord.
  3. Please do not use the electric fireplace in damp locations, as it may pose a shock hazard.
  4. Keep the controls for the electric fireplace accessible and in good working order.
  5. Ensure that the wiring and cords for the electric fireplace are in good condition and free from damage.
  6. Regularly clean the electric fireplace to prevent dust buildup, which can be a fire hazard.
  7. Use caution when handling the electric fireplace, and avoid touching the heating elements with bare skin.
  8. Keep children and pets away from the electric fireplace to prevent accidental injury.
  9. Do not use the electric fireplace if the cord or plug is damaged, frayed, or shows any signs of wear.
electric fireplace

Importance of Cleaning Your Fireplace, stove and Chimney

  • Cleaning your fireplace, stove, and chimney is essential for several reasons:
  • A dirty chimney, stove, or fireplace can pose a severe fire hazard. Creosote buildup in the chimney can ignite and cause a chimney fire.
  • A clean fireplace, stove, and chimney will allow for better airflow, resulting in improved heating efficiency and reduced heating costs.
  • A dirty chimney can release harmful chemicals and pollutants into the air, harming your health. Regular cleaning can help improve indoor air quality.
  • Regular cleaning of your fireplace, stove, and chimney can increase the lifespan of these appliances and reduce the need for costly repairs.
  • In some areas, local building codes and regulations may require cleaning your chimney.
  • Regular cleaning can help maintain the appearance of your fireplace, stove, and chimney, adding to the aesthetic appeal of your home.

FAQ:

Does Creosote smell like burning plastic?

Yes, Creosote makes a stinky smell and often smells like burning plastic or burning cloth.

Why does my fireplace smell burn?

A fireplace often smells burnt when you use it after a long time or seasonally. When you fire your fireplace. The build-up of dust, debris and Creosote starts burning and producing a stinky smell.

Can I spray vinegar on my fireplace?

Yes, you can spray vinegar with 1:1 mixing it with water on your fireplace wood before firing your stove. Remember never to spray vinegar directly on fire to prevent potential hazards.

Can I go to sleep with a fire in the fireplace?

Never sleep with a fire in the fireplace, stove, heater or chimney. A fire in the fireplace can pose a fire risk, especially if it is not properly tended to or spreads to nearby flammable materials. If the chimney is blocked or there is a problem with the venting system, the fire in the fireplace can produce carbon monoxide, which can be fatal if inhaled.

Do fireplaces affect indoor air quality?

Fireplaces can affect indoor air quality. The smoke produced by a fireplace contains particles and gases, such as carbon monoxide, that can be harmful if they enter the indoor air. In addition, if the chimney is not maintained correctly or there is a blockage, the fire can produce carbon monoxide, a toxic gas that can be fatal if inhaled.

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