Chimneys on the outside of homes create a classic, welcoming appearance. Plus, the fireplace connecting to the chimney is excellent for starting a fire safely and creating a cozy atmosphere. Simply put, a chimney/fireplace combo is perfect for homeowners trying to make an inviting indoor environment.

If you want to keep chimneys and fireplaces functioning properly all year round, preventing common problems is critical. Like any area of the home, a chimney requires consistent upkeep to remain safe and efficient. Although chimney problems aren’t rare, they are preventable. Read our helpful guide to learn the most common chimney problems and their solutions.


Wood fires produce a warm environment, but that’s not their only byproduct. If you burn wood in a fireplace, the chimney will accrue creosote buildup over time. Creosote is a dark, soot-like substance that frequently lines the interior of chimneys; although you can’t see this gunk when sitting in front of the fireplace, it’s still present and harmful.

For example, creosote is combustible and contributes to house fires nationwide. The typical signs of creosote buildup at home are a foul or smokey odor. For this reason, homeowners hire chimney professionals to help inspect and clean the area.

Thankfully, homeowners can easily prevent excessive creosote accrual with the help of trained professionals. Plus, the longer you allow the creosote to fester, the more it will build up and block the chimney.

Creosote and Air Quality

Beyond causing bad smells and fires, creosote blockage creates a challenge for the harmful gases emanating from wood fires. Wood fires are great with proper ventilation, but poor ventilation makes it more challenging for toxic fumes to escape through the chimney; suffice it to say, carbon monoxide is not a byproduct you want drifting back into your house.

Homeowners should know that the presence of the slightest bit of creosote isn’t a cause for concern, but substantial buildup over time makes the situation more dangerous. Luckily, routine cleaning will help prevent such conditions on your property every year.


A chimney and fireplace are two parts of the same system, so they can negatively and positively affect each other, with creosote being only one example. Although creosote is a common chimney blockage, it’s far from the only material capable of clogging the flue.

For instance, the tree branches around your home contain potential obstructions. Falling leaves might seem harmless, but they can accrue along flue liners to a dangerous degree. As a result, no matter how you fuel the fire, the chimney up top can allow debris, such as animal nests and leaves, to enter your home and block the space above your fireplace.

It’s easy to notice if a bird accidentally flies into your chimney because you’ll hear them flapping their wings inside. However, leaves and other natural debris aren’t always so noisy, making it convenient for them to accrue above your fireplace without you knowing.

Like creosote, blockages of any kind can result in a toxic gas buildup and fire hazards. Thankfully, another similarity these obstructions share with creosote is the solution. So if you want to keep bird nests from turning your home into a safety hazard, reach out to chimney experts and set up a routine cleaning.

Faulty Flashing

A mysterious leak is a homeowner’s worst nightmare. If moisture leaks into your home somewhere without your knowledge, it can hinder structural integrity in your walls and promote mold accrual. A common culprit behind leaks around the chimney is the flashing.

Your chimney connects to the fireplace below, so protection between the outside and the interior of your home is critical. This is where the flashing comes in handy. When the flashing fails, moisture can seep into your home and wreak havoc.

Why Flashing Fails

Two of the big culprits behind faulty flashing are old age and improper installation. Thanks to the latter issue, homeowners should always choose their chimney installation service carefully.

Take time to learn about the company’s policies and reputation in the industry. Installing a chimney requires skill, and setting up the flashing is one of the top areas of the project where experience is paramount.

The longer you let leaks plague your walls, the costlier the damage will become. Don’t worry; if you see leaks around the fireplace or can see the flashing deteriorating outside, call an expert to help.

Flashing repair services aren’t hard to track down due to the severity and frequency of flashing issues. That said, given the expertise you need for flashing installation, make sure you hire someone with immense experience and a list of happy previous clients to ensure your repair doesn’t fall victim to poor installation practices.

Masonry Quality

When explaining the most common chimney problems and their solutions, we must address masonry, the building blocks of the whole project. After all, even if the flue liner is free of excessive buildup, the bricks and stone that hold the chimney together can run into problems.

Despite the solid nature of chimney masonry, the bricks and stones can soak up water outside. As a result, the masonry deteriorates over time, diminishing its lifespan and structural integrity. If you neglect a chimney and allow the masonry to collect excessive moisture, you may run into prevalent issues, such as flaking or cracking bricks.

For instance, a cracking crown is a prevalent side effect of erosion from the elements. Like the other issues on this list, the best solution is to reach out to a masonry repair service. That way, you can consult an expert to find the best solution for your problem.

Professional Assistance

Hiring a professional to perform waterproofing services for your masonry can boost defenses significantly. Likewise, a trained expert can perform tuck-pointing, which involves replacing old, worn mortar with a fresh, secure batch.

Reading through these problems might be stressful if you’re a homeowner with a chimney. Fortunately, avoiding these situations comes down to finding professional help and ensuring the chimney receives consistent maintenance.

Something as simple as keeping track of chimney maintenance will help you prevent flue fires, carbon monoxide exposure, and other potential issues at home. So if you haven’t had a routine chimney inspection in a while, reach out to a professional for help today.

The Most Common Chimney Problems & Their Solutions