If you own a stove, fireplace, or insert, then you know that investing in routine maintenance from time to time (along withfireplace insert annual inspections) is a must. Damages in the fireplace or chimney are never something to mess around with and putting off repairs can lead to even more issues down the line. Needless to say, the sooner you call in an expert, the better!

But not everyone knows what to look for or when calling a pro is actually a necessity. Well, we’re here to help! We’ve provided some things to keep in mind when running your appliance. And if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Northeastern Masonry & Chimney today!

Is There Smoke in the Home?

If you see smoke billowing into your living space, then it’s definitely time to stop using the fireplace until an expert can take a closer look. There are a number of reasons why this might be occurring, but here are some of the more common causes:

  • Creosote Build-Up: If it has been too long since your last chimney sweeping, there’s a good chance you have creosote build-up affecting your airflow. Creosote can also trigger a chimney fire, so getting it out regularly is extremely important to both your chimney’s health and your safety!
  • Clogs: Another issue is outside debris clogging things up. If birds leave behind nesting materials or harsh winds blow in leaves or twigs, your smoke won’t be able to effectively escape. If this is the problem, a new chimney cap may be in order.
  • Design Flaws: Sometimes we come across chimneys that just weren’t built correctly in the first place. They need to be a certain height to properly vent out fumes and smoke, and even small miscalculations can impact airflow.
  • Rusted Damper: If you have a throat damper, there’s a good chance it may be rusted shut, thus inhibiting smoke from safely escaping. A good option here is to switch to a top-sealing damper, which we would be happy to install.
  • Tight Home: If you have a newer home, it may be too tight. While this is great for your heating bill, it often causes problems when it comes to operating a wood-burning fireplace.
  • Bad Fuel: Are you throwing trash or unseasoned wood into your fires? This is a big cause for smoke (and one exception where you won’t need any professional help). Make sure your wood has been properly dried out for at least six months, and don’t be tempted to toss any paper plates, cardboard, or the like in there, either!

I’m Not Seeing Smoke… But I’m Smelling It!

If you’re smelling smoke, but not seeing it, then you’re probably assuming it’s your nose that’s the problem. Well, don’t be so quick to discredit your own senses! If you’re smelling smoke from your basement or attic when the fireplace is being used, then there could be either a pressure issue in your home or a performance/safety issue with your system.

Regardless, getting us in to perform an inspection is an important step for ensuring optimum efficiency.

Other smells to be aware of are those musty smells that indicate water is sitting somewhere it shouldn’t be. Water in your chimney leads to masonry deterioration, mold growth, rusted metal components, rotted woodwork, and a whole list of other issues, so be sure to get an inspection scheduled soon.

What Else Should I Watch For?

Now, seeing or smelling smoke in the home can be a pretty obvious sign of trouble, but lots of times homeowners want to know what else they should be actively looking for. Well, water of any kind is a problem. If you see a puddle or leak anywhere throughout your fireplace or chimney, don’t put use it until you get a certified sweep in to check things over.

Is your brickwork and mortar crumbling or looking worn? This is a big indication that your structure needs some repair as well as waterproofing services.

And while you’re scanning your masonry, take a peek at your chimney cap, too. If you see any dark gooey substances up there, then creosote is overtaking your flue, and it needs to be cleared out before lighting any more fires.

It’s also good to note if your cap, crown, or flashing look rusted, cracked, or damaged in any way. All of these components play a big part in preventing water entry, so you’ll want some expert advice before putting things to use again.

Anything Else?

All in all, when it comes to your fireplace, it’s easy to forget that you’re actually lighting a fire inside of your home. If you suspect anything is off or seem suspicious of any malfunctions, err on the side of caution, and call us in – your safety could be depending on it!

Or if another service tech (like your furnace guy, for example) spots a crack in your flue, be sure to note that, too, and schedule an appointment with our crew. Damages like these leave you vulnerable to smoke inhalation, house fires, gas leaks, and more, so you can never be too careful.

Ready to get the care you deserve? That’s good because we’re here and eager to provide it! Give us a holler at 518-767-9315 today.