Help! My House Smells Like Campfire

My House Smells Like Campfire

The smoky smell of a campfire evokes images of roasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories, and sleeping under the stars. However, when your house smells like a campfire, you likely picture the worst–is your house on fire? Should you worry?

Smelling campfire odors in your home doesn’t automatically mean there’s a fire, although an electrical fire is possible. However, it could also be a sooty chimney, third-hand smoke, or due to excess moisture. Or, it might not be in your home at all, but traveling smells from someone else in the neighborhood with a burn pile.

When your house smells like a campfire, you can do several things to eliminate the odor. But first, you need to pinpoint the source in case you’re at risk. For example, if there is a small fire starting somewhere in your home, you need to find it immediately. So, knowing the potential reasons your house smells like a campfire is a critical step in solving the problem.

6 Reasons Your House Smells Like Campfire

The reasons your home smells like a campfire can range from minor to severe issues.

1. Check Your Chimney And Fireplace

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If you have a wood-burning fireplace in your home, this is a common source of campfire smells–but not while a fire is burning. It’s after the fire goes out that you’ll likely notice some smoky remnants. This is thanks to odorous air reversing in the flue and coming back down into the house.

This backdraft occurs thanks to a whole series of places throughout your home where air can escape. As the air leaves your house, air also needs to come in, and your chimney offers the largest area for that to occur.

To reduce the campfire smell in this situation, close the damper when you’re not using your fireplace. You can also employ the use of a fire screen or glass in front of the fireplace when there’s no fire blazing.

Additionally, soot and creosote build-up can also add an unwanted campfire scent to your home. Plus, if creosote continues to accumulate, it can lead to hazardous consequences, like health issues and fires. Therefore, it’s recommended to check your chimney often and get it professionally cleaned at least once a year.

2. Third-Hand Smoke

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You’ve heard of second-hand smoke–when you breathe in or are exposed to smoke from another source. For example, you don’t smoke, but perhaps your partner does, so you still get some of the effects of the smoke.

Well, objects and fabrics, like bedsheets and curtains, can also soak in smoke and hold onto it, releasing a scent into the air. When you smell this smoky odor, you’re smelling third-hand smoke. Of course, the obvious way to avoid this is to not allow any smoking in your home.

However, sometimes the smell makes its way into these items from other sources or past owners and issues. If the smell is already there, you’ll need to try and eliminate it with various techniques.

You can start simply with odor neutralizers like vinegar and baking soda. You can place some bowls of vinegar around your house or sprinkle baking soda to soak up the smell and get rid of it.

If the odor is very intense, you may need to consider repainting using odor and stain-blocking primer and paint. If the campfire smell is deeply embedded in your fabric curtains or cushions, reupholstering, professional cleaning, or purchasing new ones might be necessary.

3. Neighborhood Burn Piles

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Do you have neighbors that tend to burn their piles of leaves or trash? Open burning like this is rarely legal in most places; not only does it pose a significant fire risk, it causes a big stink. Since the smell isn’t coming directly from your home, you could use plug-in air fresheners and sprays to mask the scent.

You could also burn some scented candles, bake some cookies, or anything else that can help fill your home with a pleasant aroma. If you’re on good terms with the neighbor doing the burning, have a chat about your concerns. If your neighbor doesn’t budge, you might need to report them to local code enforcement.

4. Excess Moisture

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If you have excess humidity or moisture in your home, it can make smells more intense. If additional moisture is making its way into your chimney, this can especially intensify a campfire smell.

Besides a worsening smell, excess moisture can also lead to hazards like mold. Using dehumidifiers can help tackle extra humidity in the air.

5. Electrical Fires

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One of the most dangerous causes of a campfire smell in the house is an electrical fire. If something happens with the wiring and sparks near wooden materials in your home, it can smoke. The smell can alert you to the possibility of a fire.

In some cases, you might notice the source, perhaps an outdated or faulty outlet or a failing appliance. Kill the power at the main breaker and smother the fire with baking soda.

Or you can use a fire blanket or fire extinguisher. Then, call an electrician to repair the faulty wiring so it doesn’t happen again.

You absolutely never put water on an electrical fire, even if the power is off. However, if the fire is more extensive, or you’re unsure what to do, exit your home and call the fire department.

6. Phantom Smells

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Although rare, there’s a chance that the campfire smell you’re sniffing isn’t really there. Phantosmia is a condition where people smell odors that don’t exist, and burning smells are the most common.

If you can’t find the source of the campfire smell, and others in your home don’t smell it, this could be a possibility. Check with your doctor to investigate further.

Extra Tips For Getting Rid Of Campfire Smell In Your House

We’ve mentioned a few tips above for helping tackle campfire odors in your home. Here’s a quick review with some additional guidance so you can use it as a handy reference.

  • Use odor neutralizers to tackle odors and not just mask them. Baking soda and vinegar work well as odor absorbers; you can place them around the home to target the smell.
  • Open up the windows and doors and air out your home. Creating this cross-ventilation can help get the old air out and bring new, fresh air in.
  • Clean your home regularly, including your chimney if you have a fireplace. It’s wise to get a professional chimney cleaning annually.
  • If the odor insists on lingering, you might consider buying an ozone machine. It releases ozone particles which work on purifying your home’s air. Mini-ozone generators can cost about $30 to $75, but they’re only suitable for tiny spaces, like a small bathroom. To work with larger rooms or your whole house, you’ll spend closer to $500 to $1,000 or more.
  • If the campfire odor is trapped and embedded in your furniture, walls, and floors, you might need to consider some remodeling. You can reupholster furniture, paint walls and change out floors. Certain products are specifically designed to block old odors, like KILZ Restoration primer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the best odor eliminators to use in my home?

When you’re a homeowner, you soon find out that all sorts of smells can infiltrate your home. While lots of products can mask unpleasant odors, the best way to tackle them is to knock them out at the source. Using odor eliminators doesn’t just hide the smell; it gets rid of it.

You can use household products like baking soda or vinegar, but there are also some great products. For example, the Hamilton Beach TrueAir Room Odor Eliminator, which claims to banish odors from an average-sized room. You simply replace the filters every three months to keep your air smelling fresh.

There are also products specifically targeted to the odor you’re dealing with, say pet odor. For example, if pet urine is your big offender, find an enzymatic cleaner that targets this particular scent. If the smell’s coming from your carpet, try a carpet-odor eliminator, like Arm&Hammer Extra Strength with OxyClean.

How much does it cost for professional smoke-smell removal?

Smoke smell remediation companies come in after events like house fires to help banish the smoke smell from your home. They take care of everything from the floors to the walls to individual items. Plus, they also address the ventilation system so lingering smoke smells don’t return.

Depending on the extent of the odor, you could pay anywhere from $3,000 to over $10,000. Of course, the larger your home, and the more spread-out the smoke smell, the more it will cost you.