Q: Jason – I cleaned our fireplace hearth several weeks ago and still notice a smoke smell in the living room. I did the vinegar fireplace smell deodorizer trick that you suggested in another article and had little results. On windy and/or rainy days, the smell is worse. I am thinking of purchasing a special chimney cap, such as a vacu stack, which would prevent downdrafts especially when a fire is burning. That would solve back-drafting when the fireplace is lit.

I am wondering, in addition to the cap, if the Chimney Balloon would stop the odor from coming into the room especially days after the fire is out. Just wanted your opinion on that. I also measured just above the damper and came up with 36″ X 14″. Which Chimney Balloon would I need? – PM

A: Dear PM,  In order for the vinegar and baking soda trick to have a lasting effect in neutralizing the smell coming from the chimney the trick, is to seal the flue first so more creosote laced air doesn’t descend the flue into the room.

The 36×15 Chimney Balloon will fit well in a 36×14 flue and it will help you stop the smelly air from descending the chimney. It will all but eliminate the fireplace smoke smell as long as you install it in a low location (like by the damper).

The vacu stack (photo of one above) is great if your fireplace belches smoke during your burn from a deflecting outside downdraft that is pushing down at the chimney. This can sometimes be an issue if the chimney top is not above the roof-line or if trees deflect winds at the chimney.

If the issue is due to limited stack effect in your home then a vacu stack may not work so well. A fireplace that is smokey during the burn can have any number of issues causing the problem, but your Chimney Professional will likely be able to diagnose the issue.