Common Chimney Problems
Chimneys are familiar in downtown Buffalo, Webster, and Western New York. During the frigid winter months, the billowing smoke atop the stacks rises high in the sky as the smoke and fumes vent safely from fireplaces and stoves. While fireplaces are a common source of warmth, chimneys can also be a source of problems when not properly maintained. At Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney, we want everyone to be aware of the five most common chimney problems in Western New York.
Flammable Creosote Buildup
As the primary source of house fires across the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Falls-Rochester region, creosote buildup tops the list for its highly flammable properties. A natural byproduct of solid and fossil fuels, creosote is a highly flammable substance that builds up in chimneys, vents, and attached heating appliances over time. When creosote buildup is not removed periodically, it can spark a fire that quickly spreads from the chimney to other areas of your home.
Missing Chimney Cap/Chase Top
A chimney cap is a metal cover that sits on top of the chimney to prevent rain, snow, and debris from entering it. Without a chimney cap or chase cover (manufactured chimneys), moisture can enter the venting system, potentially causing issues like creosote buildup or masonry damage.
Also, when installing a new chimney cap, ensure it has a strong wire mesh screen to keep wildlife, such as chimney swifts, bats, squirrels, and other common neighborhood critters from nesting in the chimney.
Clogged Flue Vent
The chimney flue is a duct through which smoke and harmful gases vent from the fireplace or stove to the outside of your home. If the flue pipe gets clogged with creosote and debris, it can hinder oxygen flow. This can lead to a hazardous backdraft that can force smoke and fumes inside your home, covering your living space with hot ash, soot, and debris.
The brick or stone masonry used in constructing the chimney will deteriorate due to exposure to the elements from lake-effect snow, frequent rain, high humidity, etc. It can cause the masonry to crack, chip, and spall. Also, the deteriorating brick-and-mortar allows moisture to enter through gaps in the joints, leading to severe structural problems, including a partial or complete collapse of the stack.
Flue Liner Cracks
The flue liner is a protective layer that surrounds the flue, shielding the interior masonry walls from the extreme heat and corrosive residue produced by a burning fireplace. If this liner becomes damaged and develops cracks or corrosion, it can significantly increase the risk of fire and exposure to dangerous contaminants like carbon monoxide.
Look for These Commons Signs of a Chimney Problem
The simplest way to prevent common chimney problems is to have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a qualified professional like Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney. Our certified professionals have the tools and expertise to help ensure your chimney is free of creosote buildup and other debris.
So, if you notice any of the following signs, such as:
- Water leaks in the firebox
- A smokey fireplace
- Cracks or missing bricks/mortar
It is vital to have the problem repaired as soon as possible. Ignoring chimney problems can lead to severe health and safety hazards, including a fire.
Professional Chimney Cleaning & Masonry Services
We’re in your neighborhood! You can avoid many common chimney problems when you hire Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney’s certified professionals to inspect and clean your chimney, vents, and attached heating appliances every year. Call (716) 907-4914 in Buffalo or (585) 308-4914 in Rochester to schedule a visit with a Certified Chimney Sweep® today! You can also contact us online.