Exhaust Smell in the House: Common Causes and Solutions

Exhaust gases have a foul odor. However, because it is high in carbon monoxide, it can even kill you.

As a result, let’s accept that the exhaust smell you’re currently experiencing in your house is a significant hazard. And you must go to whatever length to locate its cause and resolve it once and for all. 

using ventilation to prevent exhaust smell in the house

You must determine the cause of the odor, whether it is a minor leak in the chimney, a blocked input vent, or something more complicated.

In this post, we discussed some probable causes of exhaust odor, how to eliminate it, and how to prevent the smell from returning.

Why Does My House Smell Like Exhaust?

There could be many reasons for your house smelling like exhaust. You must promptly determine the cause and take preventative measures. But first, don’t forget to check the Carbon Monoxide level. 

The most common reasons could be a leakage in your chimney, slightly blocked ventilation or unwanted garage odors in your house. Lastly, it could be coming from your neighbor’s house. 

Reasons and Solutions to the Exhaust Smell

Leakage in your chimney.

If you’re detecting an exhaust odor, it’s possible that the exhaust air isn’t escaping correctly and is backfiring into your home.

The primary cause of this might be a leak in your chimney. Rusty chimney ducts, separate ducting sections, etc, might cause the leakage. 

Here’s an indicator that will help you determine if your chimney has these three faults: you may have cleaned out the entire ductwork immediately after smelling the discharge for the first time.

However, you noted that the scent got much worse after the cleaning. If your house smells like paint thinner or sprays paint, there is a possibility of leakage in the chimney because the chemical inside a chimney has a similar odor to paint thinner.

How to fix it:

Please find out the reason: Whether it’s a rust infestation or broken ducting sections, you must first be assured. Check deeply for the broken, damaged, or rusted duct area we discussed, ensuring that you can adequately see into the duct. 

Clean the rust: Use a wire brush to remove the flaky, rusted particles. Thoroughly clean the afflicted area using mineral spirit. It’s now the obstinate portion of the rusted chimney pipe.

Apply many layers of zinc-rich cold galvanizing spray paint to the whole area of rust. Replace the flue once it has dried to the touch.

Repair the broken parts of your chimney’s pipe: If the leakage is minor, you can repair them with tiny, bendable adhesives. If they are significant, you may need to insulate the entire region around the injured area.

Covering the whole region in ceiling tapes might be effective chimney pipe shielding. If you discover that it is past repair, you can change the chimney’s pipe with a fresh one.

Slightly blocked ventilation

A bird’s nest or bugs possibly got into the roof’s vent cap. If any of these devices hang from them, perhaps a screw can reflect the ascending exhaust air straight into the chimney. 

Debris, birds, bird nests, or insects can clog the fresh air intake of your freshly appointed electronic equipment. It will result in weak ignition and the passage of partially burned gas via the scheme.

How to fix it:

Remove the bird’s nest: If it’s a bird’s nest or a living bird, avoid causing bodily injury when escorting them out. The only option is to relocate if it’s nested in the chimney.

a woman opening room window

Clean the dirt and waste: Determine the exit location of your intake and exhaust pipes. Extract the enormous dirt and debris from it. Use a brush or a gentle towel to eliminate obstinate dust and debris. Finally, use an air duct vacuum to clean the whole vent thoroughly.  

Unwanted garage odors.

According to studies, dwellings with connected garages might hold a substantial quantity of benzene, a toxin associated with gasoline. Houses with Carbon Monoxide leaks and accidents have also been discovered in many states worldwide.

How to fix it:

Cover the damaged areas of the garage roof: Conduct a comprehensive inspection from your garage to your home to identify any gaps, holes, leaks, or fractures. A non-airtight door between the garage and the house could be on this ranking.

Complete the walls of your home: Incomplete seams are standard in freshly constructed houses’ ceilings and walls. To repair this, thoroughly inspect the wall and its seams to ensure they are correctly sealed with industrial tape and cement.

Burn gas and oil carefully: Exhaust emissions are produced by an oil or gas burner. It might infiltrate and generate an oil or gas burner exhaust odor in residence. Use a separate exhaust outlet to operate those power motors near the doorways or windows as feasible for protection.

The smell was coming from your neighborhood

We’d want to look for a conveniently situated exhaust vent via the walls around the bottom level, even if it’s a remote chance. If your neighbor’s boiler installation is powerful enough, it may pass via your air nozzles and generate an emission smell. The nearer you live to such people, the more probable this will occur.

How to fix it:

Install your and the neighbor’s vent at a minimum distance: Simply put, you or your neighbor must leave enough space between your exhaust and your intake. Most of the time, a simple request will be enough.

Suggest they install the exhaust properly: As changing your inlet vents is much more involved, requesting them to construct piping on top of the exhaust and send it to the ceiling may be an excellent suggestion.

The smell was coming from your washing machine

Yes, the washing machine could smell like exhaust. If you feel an intense paint thinner smell coming from your washing machine, you might have accidentally spilled paint thinner on your clothes, and now, your house smells like exhaust. Keep the machine’s lid open to eliminate the smell, and clean the interior with vinegar and baking soda.

How to Prevent Future Exhaust Odors in the House?

Clean your ventilation system often

Household air vents are often clogged with ducts, filth, hair, insect webs, and other debris. Washing them at least once a month will improve adequate ventilation, save you, and prevent undesirable exhaust gases from entering the house. 

Use a professional vacuum cleaner, cleaning brush, wire brush, broom, and so on as a cleaning instrument. Check that the vacuum has a long enough cord to go deeply into the vents. Wash the grates on your roof on a routine basis as well.

Keep birds and bugs away from your chimney

Aside from protecting the cap of your roof vent from rain, it is critical to protect it against birds and insects. You might begin by incorporating a wire mesh into it. And keep the ground insects at bay. 

Getting a prepared heater cap that verifies all security measures would be the finest choice. Yet, seeing a dead animal in an air duct is not uncommon.

Keep your exhaust and inlet at a distance

We haven’t seen many individuals do it, but keeping your air inlet and exhaust outlets near each other is terrible. Although the inlet pipes face downward and the emission pipes above, their proximity allows the channel to draw exhaust gases back into the residence. As a result, keep them at least 5 feet apart. Keep the surrounding regions clean of clutter such as plants, rubbish, etc.

Monitor the air filter regularly

Air filters are frequently moved or twisted due to misuse or improperly sized filter slots. If this is done, it will not be capable of keeping the exhaust gases and stench at bay as it should. Use air purifiers based on your house size to remove the exhaust smell.

Health Concerns & Risks of Exhaust Odors in the House

Exposure to exhaust odors in the house can pose several health risks.

These risks can vary depending on the exhaust source and the exposure level, but they can include respiratory irritation and headaches.

Exhaust fumes can contain various harmful substances, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.

When inhaled, these substances can irritate the respiratory system and cause symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath.

In severe cases, exposure to high exhaust fumes can lead to more serious health problems, such as lung damage or heart attack.

If you are experiencing exhaust odors in your house, it is important to take steps to address the problem and minimize your exposure to the fumes.

This might include opening windows for ventilation, turning off any appliances or vehicles that may be producing the odor, and seeking professional assistance to diagnose and repair the issue.

If you are concerned about the health risks of exhaust odors in your house, it is a good idea to consult a healthcare professional for advice. They can help you assess the potential risks and recommend ways to protect your health.

Watch the video below to learn more hacks:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

What’s the deal with my house smelling like exhaust fumes?

Exhaust smells can be directed back into your home by a partially or clogged exhaust chimney.

Chimney obstructions can also lead to carbon monoxide accumulation inside your house, so have your furnace’s exhaust system thoroughly inspected and any obstructions removed as quickly as possible.

What is the indication of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning indications include headaches, dizziness, nausea or sickness, weakness, disorientation, chest and muscular discomfort, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

What has the odor of a gas leak but isn’t one?

In houses with no gas leakage, sulfur is typically the cause of a gas stench. It smells like the rotting stench of a gas leak, although it’s not nearly as dangerous.

Microbial in sewage pipes and kitchen sinks emit sulfur over time, causing the odor to permeate your house.

Is it possible to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by opening a window?

Opening a window will likely delay but not halt carbon monoxide poisoning. Most windows don’t allow enough airflow to eliminate the poisonous gas, and it could take four to eight hours for the CO to dissipate completely.

How does an exhaust leakage smell?

A healthy exhaust smells smokey and musty around the pipe. The emission contains toxins such as carbon monoxide.

The odor is readily discernible, although it shouldn’t be perceived within the cabins. You may have an emission leak if you smell fuel in your automobile.


There might be several causes for your property to smell like exhaust. You must promptly identify the source and take preventative measures. The most prevalent causes include the following-

  • A chimney leak.
  • Leakage of Carbon Monoxide.
  • Somewhat obstructed airflow.
  • Undesirable garage scents.
  • Finally, it might be coming from your neighbor’s home.