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Early Signs of Chimney Problems

Pay attention to your chimney's needs and present condition. Keep an eye out for the early signs of chimney problems.

Pay attention to your chimney’s needs and present condition. Keep an eye out for the early signs of chimney problems.

Whether we’re talking about your car’s engine, your health or your chimney system, early detection is key to minimizing damage when trouble is brewing. For chimney care, the best way to ensure that you’re aware of any issues as soon as possible is, of course, to keep up with your annual chimney inspection appointment. But in between inspections, you might catch a budding issue on your own. Here are a few things to look out for:

Smoke Intrusion

Your chimney system is designed to encourage smoke and gases to travel up and out. So if smoke is coming down and into your living area through your fireplace or stove, something isn’t working as it should. The specific reason can vary: your flue might be blocked with debris or creosote; the flue liner might be improperly sized for your appliance; your chimney damper could be stuck closed; or a wind-induced downdraft might be forcing the air down. And those are just a start. To figure out your specific issue and recommend the best approach for repairs, Bulldog Chimney Sweeps can thoroughly inspect your chimney system, top to bottom.

Unpleasant Smells

Your nose almost always knows when something’s wrong. If you notice a smoky smell coming from your fireplace — particularly during warmer and more humid periods — there’s a good chance you’re overdue for a chimney sweeping appointment. Built-up creosote deposits give off a strong odor, and that’s only made worse when the weather warms up. A thorough professional chimney sweeping from Bulldog Chimney Sweeps usually does the job.

If you’re dealing with a musty odor, it’s possible that you’ve had some water intrusion that’s led to mold. Dealing with that issue properly will first require troubleshooting the cause of the moisture, then remediating the mold growth and repairing the leak.

If the odor that’s troubling you is even more intense than that, you might’ve had some animal visitors nesting in your chimney. Animals almost invariably bring along unpleasant odors — if young or sick animals get stuck in your flue and die, that odor issue gets much worse. Bulldog Chimney Sweeps can help clear out debris in your flue — including what’s left behind by nesting animals — and help you keep out unwanted visitors in the future by installing a strong chimney cap.

Spalling Brick

If you look at your masonry chimney after the winter weather subsides and you see crumbled or popped-off brick faces, you’ve likely had some spalling from the freeze-thaw process. We can protect masonry — and help prevent future spalling — by applying a durable and specially formulated waterproofing sealant.

Receded Joints

Bricks generally last a lot longer than the mortar joints connecting them, so it’s not unusual, with an older chimney, to notice that your bricks are holding up well, but joints are pulling back or cracking. While it’s not unusual, it’s definitely not good — if water intrusion isn’t already occurring, it’s likely it’s on its way. Bulldog Chimney Sweeps can renew your masonry joints with expert tuckpointing work.

Rust Spots, Streaks or Stains

The components of your chimney system that are made out of metal — like the chimney cap, chase cover and chimney damper — will have different levels of durability, based on the materials they’re made out of, the conditions they’re under, quality of installation and a number of other factors. But one thing is consistent: If you see rust, that’s a sign of damage, and an indication that moisture will soon makes its way to the interior, if it hasn’t already. When metal components succumb to rust, Bulldog Chimney Sweeps technicians can make the proper repairs and replacements. We can also recommend ways to keep rust away — including choosing more resilient materials, like stainless steel and copper.

Those are just a few indications that your chimney is in trouble. If you have any concerns, Bulldog Chimney Sweeps is always here to help. Just call us, or make an appointment online!