Avoid Chimney Problems – Tips and Advice for Chimney and Fireplace Operation.
Chimneys and stovepipes are like other structures, you must check them periodically to make
sure that minor defects do not evolve into major problems. Inspect your chimney at least twice a year. Here are
some troubleshooting tips:
1. Air leaks can disturb the draft of flue, allowing sparks to escape and ignite a fire. To find
leaks in what should be an airtight system, have a helper shine a flashlight up the flue while you check for light
2. Or build a smoky fire by burning wet wood or damp shredded newspaper and cover the chimney
with a heavy wet cloth. Smoke may reveal air leaks.
3. If the soot clean out door leaks, it should be cemented or sealed. The clean out pan at the
base of the chimney must fit tightly.
4. The joint must be airtight where a smoke pipe enters a flue, if it leaks, cement the porous
5. Clean-out doors on the smoke pipe elbows must make airtight seals when closed. If they’re
not airtight, flames will be visible and may come through openings.
6. A smoke pipe must never enter the flue at a downward angle. It should be re-set so that it
goes into the flue at an ascending angle of 90 degrees or more.
7. Horizontal pipes are the greatest collectors of creosote. Inspect them frequently. Soot is
8. Clear the soot yourself from any easily reached narrow space.
9. Use a weighted round brush on a long pole to scrape the flue (available at home improvement
stores), or lower a bag of rough burlap filled with gravel into the flue.
10 A flue that doesn’t draw the way it should can cause a smoky back-up in the stove and in your
home. Check to make sure there are no obstructions. Birds, squirrels (and sometimes Santa) build nests in the warmth
of your chimney.