7 Common Chimney Dangers & How To Prevent Them

Common chimney dangers and how to prevent them

The primary function of a chimney is to direct smoke, carbon dioxide, and other byproduct gases away from the fireplace and out of the house. Chimneys are one of the most overlooked home features that require routine maintenance. Without proper care, your chimney may suffer from common chimney dangers, including creosote buildup, liner damage, draft obstructions, mold, brick damage, rotting wood, and even fires. 

1 – Creosote Buildup

Creosote is a substance that forms within your chimney from burning wood in your fireplace. This black or brown residue is highly flammable and is a common cause of chimney fires. There is no way to prevent creosote from forming, but the best way to combat creosote buildup is to have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected yearly.

2 – Damage to the Chimney Liner

A chimney liner is a flue pipe that vents the gases and smoke from your fireplace up out of your home. They are usually made of either stainless steel or terracotta clay. Over time, the rigorous heat from using your fireplace can degrade the internal chimney masonry. This can damage the structure of your chimney and even send dangerous gases, like carbon monoxide, back into your home. Annual chimney inspections will allow us to determine the condition of your chimney flue liner and make repairs as needed.

3 – Draft Obstructions

Your chimney is open to the outside world. This leaves it susceptible to tree branches, leaves, dirt, twigs, animals, and other debris getting inside. These materials can obstruct the chimney and prevent harmful fumes from leaving your home. The easiest way to prevent debris and animals from forming inside your chimney is to install a chimney cap or rain pan.

4 – Mold

Mold will form in damp areas that lack sunlight. Once present, mold can travel down your chimney and into your home! That is a huge health risk to you and your family. A regular chimney cleaning and inspection will reduce the mold on your chimney liner. Installing a rain cap is another way you can prevent mold from forming in the first place.

5 – Cracked Bricks

Chimney bricks can become damaged over time. This can cause your chimney to lean, crumble, and even collapse. While some cracking is expected, the damaged bricks should be repaired before the damage gets too extensive. It’s far less expensive to replace a few bricks than to repair a collapsed chimney.

6 – Rotting Wood

Some chimneys are wrapped with vinyl siding and wood trim that can allow too much moisture inside. This can eventually lead to rotting wood behind the siding. Rotting wood is prone to termite and structural damage. While preventing wood rot has more to do with how your home’s chimney was constructed, a professional inspection of your chimney will be able to determine if your chimney has rotting wood. 

7 – Chimney and House Fires

Signs of a chimney fire include large amounts of dense, billowing smoke from the top of your chimney and rumbling or tapping sounds from the fireplace or chimney. Not all chimney fires are catastrophic. Some may go out on their own. These smaller fires can still damage the chimney liner and internal masonry structure without ever showing signs to the homeowner. Chimney fires are largely caused by creosote buildup, so the best way to prevent chimney fires is with a professional annual inspection and cleaning.

Schedule Your Chimney and Fireplace Inspection with The Mad Hatter

The Mad Hatter is one of Atlanta, Georgia’s largest family-owned chimney sweeping and cleaning businesses. Our chimney sweeping and cleaning service was the first service we offered in 1978, and we continue to hone and improve our service for you.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America states, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents should be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances.” A professional chimney inspection and cleaning is the best way to prevent these common chimney dangers.

Click here to schedule service with The Mad Hatter.