Chimney FAQ’s

How often should my chimney be cleaned?

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Standard 211 states that all chimneys should be inspected once a year (preferably at the end of a burn season), and cleaned as necessary. Putting off a cleaning can lead to a chimney fire as well as chimney and fireplace damage. To schedule your annual inspection today, please click here!

How is the chimney swept?

The chimney sweeping process involves the use of specialized brushes and high-powered vacuums to loosen and remove creosote, soot and debris in the chimney system. For a look at the process, check out this video:

How can I keep rain and animals out of my chimney?

The best way to keep rain and animals out of your chimney is to have a high-quality chimney cap professionally installed on your chimney.

Will there be a mess when my chimney is swept?

When you have a Northeastern Masonry & Chimney technician clean your chimney, you don’t have to worry about a mess. We use drop clothes, runners, shoe covers and high-powered vacuums to ensure that your home stays clean throughout the process. We know how hard you work to keep your home looking nice and we promise to treat it as if it were our own.

What do I do if my damper is broken or if my flue is damaged?

A damaged damper should be repaired or replaced to prevent smoke problems and high utility bills. If your damper is rusted shut, it can cause smoke to flow back into your home and can make enjoying your fireplace virtually impossible. A damper that will not properly close can allow conditioned air to escape through your chimney when not in use, and can also allow large gusts of wind to come down into your home.

If your flue is damaged, it can cause problems with the efficiency and longevity of your chimney system, and can also be a serious fire and health hazard. For more information on the importance of a proper flue liner, please click here.

What does it mean if I see rust at the top of my chimney?

If you are seeing rust at the top of your chimney, you can be sure you have water leaking into your system. It’s important that you address water issues as soon as you notice them, because by the time you see signs of water, the problem has typically had plenty of time to cause serious deterioration to the entire chimney system. For more information on chimney leak solutions and waterproofing services, please click here.

Doesn’t my heating technician clean my chimney?

Although your heating technician may brush some debris from the bottom of your chimney, it is very rare for him or her to actually clean and inspect the entire chimney system. That’s why it’s important that you have your system regularly inspected by a certified chimney sweep. A thorough inspection can keep you abreast of any problems, and will let you know when it’s time to have the chimney swept. For more information on the sweeping process, please click here.

Why is cold air coming from my chimney?

If you notice cold air coming from your chimney when it is not in use, there is a good chance that your damper is opened. Although throat dampers have served us well in the past, they do not provide an air-tight seal and often rust into place. You may want to consider having a top-sealing damper installed, which can reduce utility bills, keeping conditioned air in and cold air out. For more information on dampers, please click here.

Why does my chimney smell?

In reality, all chimneys smell – but it shouldn’t be apparent. If your chimney smells damp, musty or smoky, it’s highly likely that you have a water penetration problem. If you mostly notice the smell in the summertime, you may have a buildup of creosote that is being exaggerated by high humidity levels. It’s also possible that you have an air pressure problem that is causing air to come down your chimney instead of going up and out of the home. For more information on the causes and cures for smelly chimneys, please click here.

Why do I have smoke coming from my downstairs fireplace when my upstairs fireplace is in use?

If you notice smoke coming in through your downstairs fireplace when your upstairs fireplace is in use, you most likely have a pressure problem that is causing your unused fireplace flue to bring replacement air into the home. As air is pulled into the unused flue, smoke is pulled in with it (smoke exiting the flue that is in use). To prevent this from happening, you will need to eliminate the pressure problems, or install a top-sealing damper on the less-frequently-used flue.

Do chimney cleaning logs really work?

Although the chemicals in the logs are designed to change the composition of glazed creosote, the majority of creosote will not be removed by these logs. In other words, they are not intended to replace a professional cleaning.

Why should I have my chimney inspected with a camera?

A standard Level 1 inspection only involves the use of a flashlight and a tape measure. The reason why we believe in providing a closed-circuit camera inspection with each and every service is that we understand that the entire flue and interior of the chimney cannot be properly assessed with a simple flashlight. This is not related to the height of the chimney as much as it is the offset of the flue. The camera system we use allows us to take a close look at the condition of the flue from top to bottom, and also helps with documentation purposes. For more information on the inspections we perform, please check out our Chimney Inspections, Chimney Sweeping & Video Scan page.

Who certifies chimney sweeps?

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a non-profit organization that is designed to be a resource for homeowners and chimney professionals across the nation. The organization is run by industry experts, with a mission to educate and maintain high levels of professionalism and ethical practices within the chimney industry. Known for setting the industry standard, the CSIA provides the latest in safety and techniques and offers a nationally-recognized certification program.

What does it mean if I see water damage in my ceiling?

If you notice water damage in the ceiling around your chimney, you can bet your chimney flashing or masonry is leaking. To prevent further damage, be sure to contact one of the professional chimney leak experts at Northeastern Masonry & Chimney!

How often should I have my pellet stove cleaned?

Pellet stoves require some general maintenance and cleaning from use to use, but you will want to have your pellet stove professionally cleaned at least once a year. Your appliance will require this service after burning anywhere from 1-2 tons of fuel.

How often should I have my gas fireplace or insert cleaned?

Even though gas appliances don’t create the ash and soot associated with wood-burning appliances, they still produce by-products and require regular cleaning. With gas appliances, it is especially important that you have the flue checked for obstructions and proper function so as to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. As with any other fuel-burning appliance, you’ll want to schedule a professional inspection and cleaning at least once a year.

How often should I have my wood-burning stove cleaned?

It’s important to have the chimney and stove inspected after burning anywhere from 1 ½-2 cords of wood. Depending on the type of wood you use and how often you use your stove, you may only need to have the system professionally cleaned once a year.

What is the freeze/thaw cycle and how does it affect my chimney?

The freeze/thaw cycle refers to a process that happens in water-penetrated masonry. As temperatures change, the water in the masonry will freeze and expand then thaw and constrict, causing the masonry to crumble from the inside out. You can protect your chimney from this damage by having any cracks or holes professionally sealed. We can also apply a professional waterproofing product to your chimney system for added protection. For more information on our waterproofing process, please click here.

What is the best firewood to burn?

When it comes to firewood, the dryer the better! Unseasoned or wet firewood will produce more creosote and smoke, and will not burn as efficiently. You’ll also want to be sure to mix both hard and soft wood in your system. If you have any questions about firewood, give us a call at 518-767-9315 – we’d love to help you out!

What are chimney swifts and why can’t I have them removed?

Chimney Swifts are federally-protected birds that migrate to the States in the spring time and commonly nest in chimneys. Because they are federally protected, by law, you must wait for them to leave of their own accord. They typically leave the States in late summer/early fall, so once they are out of your system, we can provide a thorough cleaning before burn season. We can also educate you on how to keep Chimney Swifts from nesting in your chimney in the future (as they are known to return to the same place year after year). For more information on Chimney Swifts, check out

What is a witches crook?

A witches crook refers to a slant in the chimney that is often found in older chimney flues. It was supposedly intended to keep witches from flying down into the chimney. This bend can make cleanings and inspections difficult, but here at Northeastern Masonry & Chimney, we have the tools and know-how to get the job done right. Just give us a call!

We hope you found this page to be helpful! If you have any more questions, feel free to give us a call at 518-767-9315 or click here!

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