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4 Common Chimney Problems and How to Troubleshoot Them

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Your wood-burning fireplace gets all the praise and attention for the warmth and relaxation it provides, but if it wasn’t for your chimney, the magic just wouldn’t happen. Known as the backbone of your heating system, your chimney works hard so you can have a safe and beautiful fire. Any problems that arise should be addressed in order to maintain its safety. In this month’s blog, the CCP-certified chimney pros at Admiralty Chimney share four common chimney problems and how to troubleshoot them.

1. Creosote Buildup

Creosote forms when the smoke from your fire cools and condenses, leaving a black, hard substance in your flue that’s very similar to tar. Even though creosote is a natural byproduct of burning wood, it is highly flammable and can become a fire hazard. Builtup creosote can also restrict airflow, causing smoke to enter your home, instead of being released outside. You can prevent creosote buildup by having your chimney professionally cleaned.

2. Chimney Obstructions

Critter nests, outdoor debris, and even a curious animal that’s stopped by to “inspect” your chimney, can block your flue from exhausting smoke and fumes, putting you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. A quality chimney cap, with mesh on all four sides, is the best way to prevent anything from getting inside your chimney. To ensure your cap remains in good working condition, be sure to keep up with your annual inspections.

3. Closed Damper

The adjustable steel flap above your firebox and inside your chimney is responsible for regulating the amount of heat in your home. Your damper should be fully open when a fire is first lit, then adjusted as the fireplace warms to maintain a draft and allow smoke to exit through your chimney. Sometimes the damper’s hinge mechanism gets stuck or stops moving smoothly due to dirt, creosote buildup, or corrosion. This can be easily identified and fixed during a standard chimney inspection.

4. Cracked Masonry

Moisture that seeps into your chimney through cracks or chipped bricks is the biggest enemy to your chimney system. Water can damage your masonry, lining, firebox, and damper, as well as the walls and ceilings in your home. Maintenance, such as tuckpointing and waterproofing, ensure that water doesn’t infiltrate your chimney system, protecting your masonry from damage. There are times when brickwork becomes so damaged because of moisture, that the bricks need to be replaced. Schedule any masonry work in the springtime when the outside temperatures are optimal for a proper repair.

Chimney Inspections are Key to Keeping Problems at Bay

It’s important to be intentional about the maintenance and upkeep of your wood-burning system. Scheduling a cleaning and inspection with a licensed professional will give you peace of mind that your fireplace and chimney are safe to use. At Admiralty Chimney, our CCP-certified chimney experts can alleviate your concerns and provide answers to your questions.

Chimney Cleaning, Inspection, Service, and Repair in NH and MA

Most common fireplace problems are easily identified and solved. If you have questions about your fireplace and chimney, contact our team today. We’re ready to help.

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