5 Chimney Problems We See The Most

.A fireplace has a positive effect on a home — the fire will warm you and your family in a way that no other heat source can. That said, the chimney attached to the fireplace requires regular maintenance to ensure your family’s safety. We’ve seen all kinds of chimney problems over the years — from small problems that only required simple fixes, to disasters in need of a complete rebuild. Luckily, most problems don’t get that bad, as long as you catch them early.

No matter how good your fireplace and chimney may look, make sure that you have an annual inspection to ensure that your home and family are safe.

Of all the chimney problems we’ve seen over the years, these are the most common.

Creosote Buildup

This problem occurs most frequently among those who put off their annual chimney inspection — inspectors usually spot this quickly and will alert homeowners of the need to get the chimney cleaned. Creosote is the mixture of tar and soot deposited in your chimney. The smoke creates this mixture when you burn wood in the fireplace.

Creosote is a natural byproduct of burning wood, but it poses a significant risk because it’s flammable. The buildup of creosote can ignite when embers rise up the chimney. Because creosote burns hot, it can quickly lead to a house fire.


If anything blocks the flow of air and smoke coming out of the chimney, then obstruction is most likely to occur. Birds and rodents may build nests in your chimney during the summer, which can lead to obstructions during the winter months. Similarly, leaves from nearby trees and other debris may blow into your chimney during storms. A large buildup of creosote may cause a blockage as well. Deterioration of the chimney itself may also cause obstructions.

Many things can lead to a blockage in your chimney, but whatever the cause, obstructions pose a serious hazard. Because they inhibit airflow out of the chimney, any kind of obstruction can force deadly gases, like carbon monoxide, into your home. If you suspect that you have an obstruction in your chimney, do not light a fire until you have the blockage removed. To prevent obstructions from occurring again in the future, we recommend installing a chimney cap to keep animals and debris from entering your chimney.

Masonry Problems

Unfortunately, brick and mortar don’t last forever, especially without routine maintenance. Over time, mortar can crumble, bricks can crack and chimneys can lean or collapse. This is a dangerous problem and costly to repair.

Not all masonry problems lead to disaster though. If caught soon enough, we can replace the old mortar with new, and repair or replace damaged bricks if necessary.

Worried that you might have problems with the masonry in your chimney? Call Ray Arnold Masonry & General Contracting at 440-834-8252 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free quote.

Flue Cracks

It’s difficult to diagnose cracks in your chimney’s flue — such a project is definitely not a DIY project. Your chimney’s lining has to take a lot of stress. It’s subjected to heat, smoke, and creosote deposits every time you use it. If moisture makes its way in and combines with that creosote, it can quickly start to deteriorate the lining of your chimney. Since that lining is responsible for protecting the rest of your home from the heat, smoke, and embers in your chimney, you need to make sure that you have a professional inspect your flue for any kind of damage, cracking or deterioration.

If we find damage to a flue, we assess whether we can repair it or if it will require replacement. Because this protects your home from combustion. It’s important not to use your fireplace if an inspection has identified any damage to the flue.

Chimney Cap Damage

We highly recommend that all chimneys be topped with a chimney cap. Doing so will prevent potential obstructions, stop any intrusions from wildlife, and protect your chimney from moisture.

Like anything else, however, the chimney cap can become damaged, especially if the area where it was mounted cracks first. A good chimney inspector will locate any problems with your chimney cap and recommend an immediate repair.

At this time of year, we want to use our fireplaces as often as possible. If your chimney hasn’t been inspected in the last year or if you suspect that your chimney may have one of the above problems, hold off on lighting that fire. You could introduce toxic carbon monoxide to your home or even create the potential to start a house fire. Don’t take that risk.

Instead, give us a call at 440-834-8252 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free quote. The pros at Ray Arnold Masonry & General Contracting are dedicated to giving the best service to their customers. Don’t put off necessary maintenance and repairs — the safety of your home and family is too important.