Typical Chimney Problems and Ways to Avoid Them
Your fireplace is an important heating appliance your family depends on to stay warm and cozy throughout those long cold winters. And just like any other heating appliance, it needs to be periodically maintained. When you understand the typical chimney problems and ways to avoid them, you will keep it in good working order and your family safe, year after year.
Black or brown substance inside chimney
When you look inside and up the chimney, you may notice a black or brown substance, called creosote, covering the walls. Creosote is the result of the chemical reaction that occurs during the combustion of a wood-burning fireplace. The creosote will not dissipate on its own. It will continue to accumulate every time you use the fireplace. To avoid the risk of a chimney fire, have a certified chimney sweep clean the chimney annually.
Foul odor in the fireplace
While noticing an unpleasant odor emanating from the fireplace is not uncommon, it is something that should be investigated to discover the source of the foul smell. During periods of heavy rain or snow, water can get into the flue. As water continues to develop, the chimney can become a breeding a ground for bacteria and mold. Also, small birds, rats and other small animals sometimes find their way inside the flue. Unable to escape, they perish and their carcass decomposes emitting a strong, pungent odor. To help avoid foul odors, install a chimney cap and have it inspected every year to ensure it isn’t damaged or missing.
Smoke billowing out of your fireplace instead of up your chimney can be scary and dangerous, but is often easily avoided. When there isn’t enough cold draft to replace the expelled hot air, smoke will build-up inside the fireplace because there simply isn’t enough pressure to push it through the flue. Also, wet ash or too much moisture in the wood can also cause a smoky fireplace. To avoid this periodically inspect the flue for obstructions that may be clogging the chimney. Only burn wood with a low moisture content like quality seasoned wood. Ensure the damper is working properly, is not warped or damaged and keep it closed when the fireplace is not in use.
Cracked Bricks or Masonry
As the chimney matures, cracks in the bricks or masonry become more typical. Deterioration is a natural part of the aging process. But environmental conditions including rain, snow, hail and even high winds can soften the mortar and chip away the bricks and masonry. Eventually you may notice missing bricks and masonry. This can cause water to leak inside and the entire chimney structure may become unstable. To avoid this problem have your chimney inspected by a qualified chimney sweep every year.
The chimney is a beautiful structure that stands tall battling the environmental elements like a sentry guarding a palace. Although everything may appear in working order on the outside, a closer inspection may reveal one or more typical problems. When the chimney is not functioning properly, there is a risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The good news is that avoiding these typical problems is easy. Simply contact us to schedule your annual chimney safety inspection. Our certified chimney sweep will inspect your chimney from top to bottom and thoroughly clean the flue.