Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

What Not To Burn In Your Fireplace

When it comes to building and maintaining a strong and healthy fire, what to burn and what not to burn may seem clear enough. Most people know that burning trash or diapers is not a good idea, but not everything is so obvious. Even certain types of wood are considered a bit more hazardous and can cause issues within your home. Before building your next fire, study up on this list of what not to burn in your fireplace.What Not to Burn in Your Fireplace - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

  • Cardboard: Although it may seem like no big deal, burning cardboard can ignite a lot of problems. Cardboard is not a natural substance and gets coated with waxes and chemicals throughout the manufacturing process. When burned, these toxins release into the air and can be very harmful to those living in the home. Anything manufactured, such as plastics or plywood, should not be burned.
  • Driftwood: Driftwood is known for building up excess creosote in the fireplace. While some creosote is unavoidable, it is ideal to minimize its build-up as much as possible. Creosote is highly flammable and too much of it increases the likelihood of a chimney fire occurring, putting your home and family at risk.
  • Unseasoned Wood: Burning wood that is still green or just freshly cut is not a safe option. You use up a lot of energy burning off all of the excess water in the wood. This causes the water to turn acidic and build-up in your chimney. You will then be more prone to excess creosote, meaning more cleanings and a higher risk for house fires.
  • Old or Moldy Wood: If the wood you have is rotted or moldy, you may find yourself dealing with some nasty odors when trying to burn it. On top of that, handling old wood could lead to illness after exposing yourself to all of the extra bacteria that comes with mold and mildew build-up. If you come across wood like that, leave it alone.

What To Burn

It’s clear that burning anything that comes from a store or factory is not a good idea. Things that have gone through the production process are often coated in chemicals that will release into the air if they are burned. Wood is always the best option, but even that can be tricky, as it needs to be properly seasoned before use.

Here is what to look for when picking out firewood. If it is dark at the ends and there are cracks or splits, then that is a good indicator the wood is well-seasoned. It will be fairly lightweight because the water will have had adequate time to escape. You can also try hitting two pieces together and if it makes a clear clunking noise, as opposed to a duller thud, then it should be ready to burn.

At Pozzi Chimney Sweep, we have all the tools and resources you need to help you practice safe wood-burning techniques. If you live in and around Aurora, IL, schedule a cleaning and inspection today to ensure your fireplace is safe and ready for use.

Stinky Fireplace Odor Solutions

The heat and humidity of the summer can create some stinky odors in your chimney that may affect your living space through the fireplace. Every summer Pozzi Chimney Sweep gets calls from customers asking for help dealing with unpleasantly smelling fireplaces. A few different things can be behind these strong smells, and our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps have the experience to find the source of the smelly fireplace odor. We can take care of your stinky fireplace problem to make your house smell as great as it should. We would like to share with you a couple of the culprits behind smelly chimneys.

Stinky Fireplace Odor Solutions - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepCREOSOTE

The main cause of stinky fireplace odors in the summer, creosote is a natural compound that is formed during the condensation process of a burning wood. The toxic byproducts of combustion turn into this residue as they exit the cooler walls of the upper chimney. This residue sticks to the inner walls of your chimney and can accumulate into large deposits. Not only is creosote the main cause of smelly chimneys because of its strong, acrid scent, but, according to the CSIA, creosote is also the main cause of chimney fires because it is highly flammable. For these reasons, removing creosote is an important task in keeping your home safe from a chimney fire and in keeping your home from smelling badly. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps are experts at getting rid of accumulated creosote deposits when they clean your chimney during a professional chimney sweep. If you have a stinky fireplace, contact us to schedule a chimney sweeping so that we can remove the smelly creosote deposits.


When your fireplace smells smoky, the odor problem may involve your drafting system. Blockages in the flue your chimney can be one of the causes of drafting problems. What happens with drafting problems is the smoke that needs to be pushed out of your fireplace cannot exit completely, and this smoke combined with air gets pushed back into the living areas of your home. You can be certain that drafting issues are the cause of your stinky fireplace problem when you light a fire in the fireplace and the room fills with smoke. To take care of these drafting problems, contact Pozzi Chimney Sweep for a professional chimney inspection and sweeping.

Have a stinky fireplace? Contact Pozzi Chimney Sweep to schedule a professional chimney sweeping and inspection so that we can locate the source of the odor and have your home smelling great again.

Solving a Chimney Draft Problem

With the official start of winter just a few days away, most homeowners with fireplaces or wood stoves have at least burned a couple logs. Fireplaces are not all fun for everyone though. Perhaps you do everything right – the annual sweep and inspection, asking all the right questions, burning all the best wood – and you still cannot seem to build a strong fire. Stop feeling bad because it may not be you. Your chimney may have draft problems.


Chimneys work because hot air rises. The hot air produced by the fire has a low density, so it moves upward through the chimney. Most fires are burned during the colder months of fall and winter, so the hot air from the fire usually meets comparably cold air from the outside sitting in the chimney. When the hot air meets the cold air, the difference in pressure between the two portions of air creates a vertical pull that draws air up the chimney. This movement of air is known as the “draft,” and it pulls air rich in oxygen from the house to help fuel the fire, and then the smoke and other harmful gases safely escape through the chimney. If the air fails to flow this way, the issue is called a draft problem.

The most common draft problem homeowners experience is a chimney that is too large for the firebox. Old fireplaces in particular often have oversized chimneys that result in draft problems. A wide chimney gives the hot air more room to spread vertically, which then slows its vertical progress. When the hot air moves more slowly up the chimney, the upward pull becomes weaker. Thus, the draft weakens and the air moves inefficiently through the system. Creosote also condenses easier when the flue is too large and the draft is too weak. This can be deadly as creosote is highly flammable and can cause a chimney (or house) fire. Signs of this problem include a small, cool fire or even a fire that refuses to stay lit. Fortunately, this problem can be easily remedied with the help of a chimney specialist. With a few measurements, the specialist can determine the proper flue width the fireplace requires and install a flue lining with the corresponding size.

Another cause of draft problems is a short chimney because the draft is more powerful in a taller chimney. Short chimneys are common in aged bungalows and ranch style houses, and they can lead to cold, smoky, or inconsistent fires. Although adding height to the chimney is not a welcomed expense, it can save money in the long run by preventing a reverse draft in which the cold air from the outside actually flows into the house.

You should not have to worry about draft problems while you simply want to enjoy your home and fireplace. If you live in the area of Aurora, Illinois, get in touch with Pozzi Chimney Sweep for a professional consultation. These experts can diagnose your draft problem and guide you in making the most informed decisions when addressing it.