Our Company Blog

Common Points To Troubleshoot Your Chimney

While it is never recommended to work on your own chimney, hire amateurs, or use a damaged chimney, there are things you can do to troubleshoot. If you still experience issues after troubleshooting, contact a professional chimney sweep as soon as possible.

Common Points To Troubleshoot Image - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsSmoky Fireplace

A smoky fireplace can mean a few things. It means your chimney isn’t venting, and is exposing your family to smoke and harmful chemical byproducts.

Find the fix:

  • It could be that your house is “too tight”. Try and open a window in the opposite end of the house.
  • Check the damper. It should be in the open position to allow smoke to rise up the chimney.

When to call the professional:

If the smokey fireplace persists, your damper is damaged or you have an obstruction stopping airflow. If the smoke gusts out of your fireplace, it’s possible you need a new chimney cap. A CSIA certified sweep can solve either of these problems.

Stinky Chimney

A fireplace, appliance, or chimney can stink year-round under various circumstances. Since it shouldn’t, it always means there’s a problem. Don’t worry. It’s fairly simple to pinpoint the issue.

Finding the fix:

  • BBQ or smokey smells mean the fireplace and chimney are dirty. This smell is soot and creosote sitting on the chimney’s interior surfaces. This smell is often noticed doing the summer because summer humidity adds to the issue.
  • Moldy or mildew-like smells from the chimney means there is moisture there, and possibly standing water in some portion of the system. Water in the chimney is never a good thing, and can cause costly damage to your chimney and home.
  • Foul odors that indicate decomposition can be the worst. This means there is likely a dead animal inside your chimney system, but can also mean debris such as twigs and leaves are decomposing there.

When to call the professional:

If the chimney is stinking, it is time to call a professional. You may need a standard chimney sweep to clean away the soot, debris, or blockage, or a chimney leak diagnosis and repair.

Leaning Chimney

While less common, a leaning chimney is one of the most overlooked chimney problems. Many homeowners and handymen think there is a simple fix, but in actuality a leaning chimney is a serious issue.

Finding the fix:

  • Check the chimney for “plumpness”, meaning the chimney is straight up and down on all sides. You should use levels, because your eyes can play tricks on you.
  • Check the seam between the chimney and the house. If a crack exists, your chimney is leaning.
  • Check for pressure on building materials. If your chimney is inside your house, check the attic and spaces where your chimney comes into contact with your house. Check for buckling and shifting at the points of contact.

When to call the professional:

A leaning chimney is cause to call in a certified chimney sweep. Many general contractors boast tools and technology that can correct a leaning chimney, but unless they are certified chimney professionals, they cannot adequately assess or repair one.

For more information about troubleshooting your chimney, check out this handy list from CSIA, or speak with a chimney expert from Pristine Sweeps! Call today at 206-574-8414.

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Summer Masonry Repair Checklist

Your chimney system may be most noticed in the winter, but it needs attention year-round! Summer is the perfect time to begin preparing for winter. This means making sure your fireplace, chimney, and fuel is all ready for burn season.

Summer Masonry Repair Checklist Image - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsTaking care of these things during the summer means you will miss the fall rush – the months between October and January when chimney sweeps are especially busy. Summer is the perfect time to schedule maintenance and repairs, too. Since it’s the off season, your fire is already out.

Summer Repairs

  • Chimney Sweep
    Though not a repair, this chimney maintenance is a preventative step that will keep your chimney system working longer. A clean chimney will prevent odors, build up, reveal damage, and raise efficiency for the upcoming burn season.
  • Chimney Inspection
    The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends chimney inspections annually for the safest and most efficient chimney systems. By scheduling these inspections during the summer, you give yourself time for necessary repairs before fall.
  • Crown Repairs
    A year of seasonal weather can wear down even a well-constructed chimney crown. The crown is important because it covers the top of the chimney, keeping water out. If your chimney sweep discovers any weakness or damage to the crown during your inspection, it will need repairs. At Pristine Sweeps we utilize CrownCoat from ChimneySaver. It’s a flexible waterproof sealant that covers cracks and protects the crown from water penetration!
  • Tuckpointing
    Spalling masonry is a very common occurrence after a harsh winter, or as a result of water damage. Pristine Sweeps often sees cracking mortar and flaking bricks during routine inspections and can schedule a repair before any significant damage occurs. Tuckpointing is the process of removing the old mortar and replacing it with a new one of equal color, strength, and texture. The finished product is always beautiful, and can be topped with a waterproofing sealant for added protection.
  • Firebox Repair
    The most abused part of the chimney is usually the most overlooked. The firebox endures the highest temperatures and the most concentrated chemical byproducts and fuel. A well-constructed one can become damaged over time and may need repairs. This type of repair is best done over the summer, when the fireplace isn’t used – and you have time for adequate repairs before fall.

Count On Us!

If you remember to schedule your routine chimney sweep and annual inspection this summer, it will save you a headache this fall! Standard procedure is to stop using the fireplace and chimney twenty four hours before an appointment. Depending on how extensive the repairs will be, you may be without your fireplace for several days. Scheduling repairs during the summer means the cost won’t interfere with your holiday budget, too! There’s really no reason not to schedule repairs now.

Call Pristine Sweeps at 206-574-8414 to discuss your summer chimney checklist today. We can help you with everything from routine maintenance to extensive masonry rebuilds!