What Do I Do If My Chimney Is Blocked?
While your wood or gas-fueled fireplace, stove, or other heating appliance is warming your Cheektowaga, NY home in the spirit of the holidays, pollutants created during combustion rise the flue, exiting the chimney at the top of the stack. When the vent is blocked, these harmful contaminants can’t escape, resulting in a backdraft that forces them into your home. In addition to increasing the fire risk, there is also an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Common Causes of a Blocked Chimney
There are a variety of materials and debris that can cause a blocked chimney or flue obstruction. Some of the common causes include:
- Animal nests
- Leaves and twigs
- Dirt and debris
- Creosote and sooty buildup
A flue obstruction can also occur when you’re smoke chamber needs parging. The smoke chamber is a narrow passageway in the chimney’s throat. Many older homes in Western New York have smoke chambers built with corbeled brick. This stairstep pattern creates sharp edges where soot, creosote, and other materials can accumulate. In addition, the restricted airflow causes drafting problems that prevent smoke and fume from being expelled from your home, causing a fire and health hazard.
As a result, many municipalities have adopted National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards that require the smoke chamber surface to be parged smoothly.
Warning Signs Your Chimney May Be Blocked
A blocked chimney can quickly escalate into a significant health and safety issue for your family and property, which is why annual chimney inspections and cleaning are vital. Some of the warning signs that could be due to a flue obstruction include:
- Your carbon monoxide (CO) detector is sounding an alarm
- The fireplace fills with smoke
- Difficulty lighting a fire
- Fire burns out quickly
- Black, tarry flakes inside the flue
- Strange odor inside the firebox
Hot embers, sparks, or thick black smoke pouring out of the chimney is another warning sign of a blocked chimney. This is a dangerous issue that requires immediate attention from a certified chimney professional to prevent a fire. Flames coming out of the stack is a chimney fire. Close the damper if you can do it safely and quickly. Then, clear everyone out of the house, and call 9-1-1. Grab a garden hose and spray the roof and chimney with water until firefighters arrive. You may be more prone to have a chimney blockage if you are missing a chimney cap or chase cover.
Clearing a Blocked Chimney in Western New York
Clearing a blocked chimney is not a DIY project. It requires a trained and certified professional with the tools, supplies, and expertise to remove flue obstructions without damaging the structure or your home. When the chimney technician arrives at your home, they will assess the chimney’s condition, remove the block, and handle the repairs to restore your chimney so that you can resume using your fireplace or heating stove safely.
Is a blocked chimney creating a fire or health hazard in your home? Call Felgemacher Masonry and Chimney at (716) 907-4914 in Buffalo or (585) 308-4914 in Rochester to schedule your annual chimney inspection and cleaning today! You can also contact us online today.