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5 Common Chimney Issues that Cannot Be Ignored

A well-maintained chimney will work as it was intended and not put your home or family at risk. A neglected chimney can lead to many serious problems. Fortunately, many of these problems are preventable if you don’t ignore five common chimney issues.

Creosote buildup in chimney, Cold Spring NYCreosote buildup

Chimneys that serve wood-burning fireplaces often catch on fire because of excess flammable creosote inside the flue. Creosote is the byproduct of smoke condensation, and it can build up quickly.

Most U.S. fire-safety organizations as well as the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend yearly chimney sweep services by a trained, certified technician to reduce the risk of a chimney fire started by creosote.

Only professional chimney sweeps have the equipment and training to safely remove creosote and soot from your chimney.

Drafting obstructions

Creosote isn’t the only potential danger inside your chimney flue. If obstructions such as tree debris, small-animal nests and the like get in there, smoke will not draft efficiently.

Smoke backing up into the home carries with it carbon monoxide, which cannot be seen or smelled but can be deadly to humans and animals.

Flue obstructions can be prevented by installing a proper chimney cap or flue cover.

Damaged chimney cap

A damaged chimney cap can allow obstructive materials into the flue, and it also can allow water to get in. Water coming in from the top of the flue is a common reason people report chimney leaks.

This type of water infiltration can cause harm to the flue liner and interior masonry. In the best-case scenario, it can lead to offensive odors that filter into the house.

Evaluation of your chimney cap should be part of a thorough annual chimney inspection.

Leaky chimney

Any chimney leak should be addressed immediately. As noted above, problems with your chimney cap can cause a leak, but so can other things.

Brick damage, crumbling mortar joints, a cracked chimney crown and dislodged (or missing) roof flashing lead to the kind of leaks that can eventually destroy your chimney. Be on the lookout for these signs of a leaky chimney:

  • Water in the firebox
  • A strong, musty odor coming from the fireplace
  • Visible signs of exterior masonry damage
  • White staining on the outside of the chimney
  • Damp sections of interior walls or the ceiling near the fireplace

Brick damage/structural damage

poughskeepsie chimney spalling repairs

When there is damage to the bricks of your chimney, you’re looking at a problem that isn’t going to resolve itself. Rather, it will progress to the point that the chimney may begin to lean to one side and finally collapse.

Annual chimney inspections by CSIA-certified professionals can spot early signs of masonry damage and get repairs done quickly to prevent major expense and safety risks down the line.



Common reasons for chimney structural damage include:

  • Normal house-settling
  • An improper chimney footing
  • Lightning strikes, pounding hail, gale-force winds
  • Season after season of extreme hot and cold temperatures
  • Earthquakes
  • Poor-quality bricks and/or mortar used in building the chimney

Your inspector will not only spot masonry damage but will also determine why the damage is present.

If your chimney is experiencing any of these issues, address them now by calling the chimney and fireplace experts at Hudson Valley Chimney of Poughkeepsie, NY. We’re here to solve all your chimney problems and keep your home and family safe. Call (845) 471-1071 today.

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