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I bought a house that was vacant for a year and a half. It has a gas fireplace. The plumber that fixed the heating unit supposedly looked at the fireplace too and lit the pilot for me. I lit the fireplace for the first time tonight. It had a nasty smell--like burning lint-- like the smell when you light the gas furnace for the first time in the winter, only much worse. It seemed to get worse the longer it burned. I turned it off because the smell sort of made us feel sick. I have a carbon monoxide detector in the hallway that goes down the middle of the house (about 50 feet away) It DID NOT go off. The previous owner used the fireplace to heat the den, so it isn't like it's never been used--it just hasn't been used in a long time. So after awhile there was a banging sound, I'm assuming it was the metal contracting. The smell is lingering. I'm wondering if this is something that is normal and I just need to vacume it again and run it for brief periods of time until the smell goes away? or do I need to get someone out here to look at it? I've seen posts on here about opening the flue and the like, but no one ever mentioned that to me during the home inspection.

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    The way you describe it, it sounds like a year and a half worth of dust burning. However, you should definitely have the flue open. If it's closed, open it. And don't use the fireplace again, until you're sure it's open. – Tester101 Jan 24 '15 at 13:33
  • Thank you for your reply. I'm unsure how to check if the flue is open. It vents from behind, out a side wall that is almost 1 story up, over a cactus bed. It has a pilot that is lit all the time. and the electrical outlet/supply and the knob to turn up the flame is in a narrow chamber underneath the fireplace. – Melanie Jan 24 '15 at 22:12
  • are you sure there wasn't any rats nesting in there and you burnt them to death that would smell awful.did that once with a gas oven. – Arion Mitutoyo Dec 19 '15 at 2:18

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