How To Prevent Chimney Problems | The 5 Most Common Issues

Fireplaces are a staple in many American homes; nothing beats a roaring fire on a cold winter night. However, high temperatures and neglect can take their toll on your chimney, making it unsafe. This post details the five most common chimney problems and how to prevent them.

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Creosote Buildup

The number one problem affecting chimneys is creosote. Creosote is a byproduct of wood burning. The smoke contains wood particles, gases, and other chemicals that cool as they rise up the chimney and condense along the walls. This condensation turns into creosote. Creosote forms in three stages.

Stage One

Creosote starts as flaky dust initially and is easy to remove with a stiff brush.

Stage Two

As creosote continues building, it thickens into a hard, glass-like compound requiring professional removal.

Stage Three

Third stage creosote is a sticky, tar-like substance that’s the most difficult and dangerous to remove.

Creosote in stage two and three is highly flammable and is one of the leading causes of chimney fires. The best way to prevent creosote from building up and becoming dangerous is always to burn seasoned firewood because it produces less smoke and burns more efficiently.


Another common chimney problem is obstruction. Various things, such as bird nests, dead animals, and debris, contribute to a chimney becoming partially or completely blocked. Obstructions can cause poor ventilation, leading to an inefficient fire, and increase the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. You can prevent most chimney obstructions by installing a cap to keep animals and debris from getting into the flue and through routine chimney inspections.

Flue Liner Cracks

The flue liner protects your home’s combustible components from heat. Over time, high temperatures can cause the flue liner to crack, increasing the chance of a chimney fire. Install a chimney liner designed to withstand high temperatures and corrosion, like one made from stainless steel instead of clay. If you have a clay liner, hire a professional for an annual inspection to check for cracks or other damage that could put your family at risk.

Crown and Cap Damage

Chimney crowns and caps protect the chimney from water intrusion and obstructions, like animal nests and leaves. Crowns are typically made from concrete, which can crack when exposed to extreme weather conditions and moisture. Caps are usually made from metal and can corrode over time. You can prevent most crown damage by using a waterproofing product to keep moisture out and installing caps made from corrosion-resistant materials.

Structural Issues

Finally, structural issues, chimney leaning or crumbling bricks, can be both aesthetically displeasing and a safety issue. These serious structural issues typically occur because of neglect, severe weather like high winds or lightning strikes, water damage, or poor construction. It’s essential to fix your chimney as soon as possible if you notice it leaning or the mortar joints are crumbling because there’s a danger of it falling and damaging your roof.

While you can do little to ensure your chimney was properly constructed or guard against Mother Nature, you can preempt decay by scheduling annual chimney inspections and maintenance by a trained professional. Annual inspections allow you to detect minor issues and repair them before they worsen and cause significant damage.

Why Hire a Pro?

If your chimney has any of these issues, you may want to save a few bucks by tackling them yourself. However, chimney repair, inspection, and maintenance should be left to certified pros, and here’s why.

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It’s Safer

Working on the roof conducting chimney repairs is dangerous, especially if you’re not used to it. Professionals have years of experience and proper equipment to protect them and your home.

Better Quality

Reputable chimney contractors are certified, and many employ experienced masons who perform work at high standards to ensure functionality, aesthetics, and safety.

Peace of Mind

If you don’t have chimney cleaning or repair experience, can you be certain you did the job correctly and thoroughly? With your family’s safety on the line, it’s best to hire a professional to have peace of mind knowing they did the job right and your system is safe.


Many chimney professionals guarantee their work or offer repair warranties, which you don’t get when you do the work yourself.


Lastly, chimney and fireplace contractors carry insurance to protect you and your property should something go wrong. If you damage your roof or another part of your home, the repairs come out of your pocket.

Call the Fluesbrothers when you need expert chimney maintenance, repairs, and inspection at 913-236-7141 or fill out our simple contact form.