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.

Smoky 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.