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A Handy Guide to Tackling Chimney Problems and Their Solutions

Posted on June 22, 2023

A Handy Guide to Tackling Chimney Problems and Their Solutions

If you’re a homeowner with a chimney, you know how cozy and warm it can make your house. But, like any part of your property, chimneys are not immune to damage. Water leaks, excess soot, smoke backing up into your home, and creosote buildup are all signs that something is wrong with your chimney and you should call a chimney expert immediately. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through some common issues people run into with their chimneys and how to fix them.

👉🏼Chimney Leaks

Chimney leaks occur when there are issues with the flashing or mortar joints around your chimney. Flashing is a metal or rubber material installed to create a watertight seal between the chimney and the roof. The mortar joints are the gaps between the bricks or stones that give the chimney structure.


  1. Water Damage: Chimney leaks can damage your home’s interior walls, ceilings, and structure. It can cause mold, stains, peeling paint, and rotting wood.
  1. Chimney Deterioration: Moisture infiltration accelerates chimney deterioration. Water weakens mortar joints, which can crumble and erode over time. This can cause chimney instability and structural damage.
  1. Fire Hazards: Chimney leaks can increase the risk of fire because of the flue lining, which contains combustion byproducts, and can absorb water. Water damage can crack the flue lining and cause a chimney fire.


To fix chimney leaks, inspect chimney flashing and mortar joints. Repair these components with this step-by-step guide:

  1. Conduct a thorough inspection of the chimney flashing and mortar joints by hiring a professional to check for damage, deterioration, or improper installation.
  1. Repair or replace the damaged or improperly installed flashing and ensure a proper seal between the chimney and the roof. Then repair deteriorated mortar joints by removing old mortar, cleaning the joints, and applying new mortar for a watertight seal.
  1. Apply a waterproof sealant or chimney crown coating for added protection against water infiltration, and schedule regular chimney inspections and maintenance to address any issues promptly and prevent future leaks or deterioration.

👉🏼Cracked or Damaged Flue Liner

Cracked or Damaged Flue Liner

A cracked or damaged flue liner refers to the deterioration of the protective lining inside a chimney’s flue. The flue liner is made of clay, ceramic, or metal and acts as a barrier between the chimney’s walls and the hot gasses produced by a fireplace or other heating appliance. It prevents any fumes from entering the home, but this liner can present a significant risk to the home when it develops cracks or sustains different types of damage.


A cracked or damaged flue liner in a roof chimney poses several risks:

  1. Toxic Fumes: It may lead to the escape of harmful gasses, such as carbon monoxide, into living spaces, endangering the health and safety of occupants. 
  1. Water Seepage: Water infiltration through cracks or damage can also cause mold growth or structural damage.


  1. Relining: Flue liners can be relined with stainless steel or repaired with heat-resistant sealants if they develop cracks or other forms of damage. The chimney crown or flue liner may need to be replaced if the problem is severe.
  1. Call an Expert: Hiring a professional chimney service allows you to assess the damage and choose the best course of action that complies with all applicable safety regulations and building codes. The safety and effectiveness of the chimney system, the reduction of potential health hazards, and the preservation of the roof and surrounding structures all depend on promptly repairing a damaged or cracked flue liner.

👉🏼Chimney Obstructions

Chimney Obstructions

Obstructions in chimneys can pose several problems and risks. Potential blockages include debris, bird nests, leaves, branches, or small animals entering the chimney. 


Some of the risks associated with chimney obstructions are:

  1. Restricted Airflow: A chimney obstruction restricts airflow needed for ventilation. This can lead to poor combustion and inefficient fireplace or heating system operation.
  1. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Backup: A blocked chimney can cause smoke, gasses, and carbon monoxide to back up into your home instead of venting out. This can increase health risks, including carbon monoxide poisoning.
  1. Fire Hazards: Chimney fires are more likely to occur when there are obstructions. When flammable debris builds up in the chimney, it can catch fire and spread to the house.


To address chimney obstructions and mitigate the associated risks, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Inspection: Regularly inspect your chimney for inside and outside obstructions, and seek professional assistance.
  1. Obstruction removal: It is imperative to remove any obstructions found in the chimney safely. This may involve using specialized tools or equipment to clear out debris, nests, or other blockages.
  1. Chimney Cap Installation: Install a chimney cap to prevent debris, animals, and rain from entering while still allowing proper ventilation. 
  1. Regular Inspections: Schedule regular professional chimney inspections and cleanings to maintain the chimney’s condition.

👉🏼Chimney Flashing Complications

Flashing is usually made of metal or rubber and is meant to keep water out of the house by creating a watertight seal between the chimney and the roof. Issues with the flashing around your chimney can result in major damage, so they are important to maintain. 


Some of the problems associated with chimney flashing are:

  1. Water leaks: Leaks can occur when damaged or improperly installed flashing allows water to enter the home through crevices. Ceilings, walls, and insulation are all at risk of water damage.
  2. Structural Damage: Water infiltration through faulty flashing can rot wood, deteriorate masonry, and compromise the roof and chimney. This can result in costly repairs and potential safety hazards.
  3. Mold and Mildew Growth: The growth of mold and mildew is facilitated by the damp conditions created by water leaks. This causes unpleasant odors, health issues, and further damage to the property.


  1. Inspection: Conduct a thorough inspection of the flashing around the chimney to identify any signs of damage, deterioration, or improper installation. 
  2. Repair: If the flashing has minor damage or issues, such as small cracks or gaps, it is best to repair it ASAP. 
  3. Replacement: Replace flashing that is severely damaged, deteriorated, or improperly installed. Remove the old flashing, clean the area, and install new flashing that meets industry standards to create a strong seal. 
  4. Professional assistance: Flashing repair or replacement can be complex, requiring specific knowledge and expertise. It is recommended to seek professional help from a roofing contractor or chimney specialist. 
  5. Ongoing maintenance: Flashing needs regular inspections and maintenance after repair or replacement. Cleaning debris and proper installation will prolong its lifespan.

👉🏼Masonry Deterioration

Masonry Deterioration

Masonry deterioration refers to the gradual wearing away or decay of the mortar joints that hold the bricks or stones together in a chimney. Over time, exposure to weather elements and thermal expansion and contraction can cause the mortar to deteriorate.


Some of the risks associated with mortar deterioration in chimneys are:

  1. Structural Instability: Deteriorated mortar joints can cause the chimney to collapse or lean, endangering building occupants.
  2. Water Infiltration: Cracked mortar lets water into the chimney, leading to water damage in ceilings, walls, and surrounding areas. In winter, water damage can cause staining, efflorescence (white mineral deposits), and freeze-thaw damage.


To address masonry deterioration in roof chimneys, the following solution steps should be taken:

  1. Inspection: Conduct a thorough inspection of the chimney’s mortar joints to identify deterioration areas. Look for cracks, gaps, crumbling mortar, or any signs of weakness. A professional mason or chimney specialist can assist with this inspection.
  2. Repointing: If the damage to the mortar is only in a few spots, then repointing can be done. This involves removing the damaged mortar and replacing it with fresh mortar to restore the strength and integrity of the joints. 
  3. Rebuilding: Rebuilding may be necessary if the chimney structure or mortar deterioration is severe. The chimney is dismantled to its base and rebuilt with new bricks or stones and mortar. This restores the chimney’s structure completely.
  4. Professional Expertise: Repointing or rebuilding deteriorated mortar joints requires expertise. To ensure proper techniques and materials, consult a mason or chimney specialist.
  5. Ongoing Maintenance: After repointing or rebuilding, chimneys must be maintained regularly.

👉🏼Structural Issues

Any problem that compromises the chimney’s stability, integrity, or safety is considered a structural issue. These may arise from various factors, including foundation settling, poor construction, environmental factors, or lack of proper maintenance. 


Some of the risks associated with structural issues in roof chimneys are:

  1. Collapse: Structural issues can cause the chimney to collapse, endangering building occupants. A collapsed chimney can damage the roof and surrounding structures and potentially cause injuries.
  2. Water Damage: Chimney cracks and openings can allow water to enter and cause damage. This can lead to the rotting of wood, deterioration of masonry, and potential mold and mildew growth.
  3. Fire Hazards: A compromised chimney structure can cause fires. Structural issues can cause improper ventilation, resulting in flammable materials, reduced exhaust gas efficiency, and chimney fires.


To address masonry deterioration in roof chimneys, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Maintenance: Preventing and fixing masonry deterioration requires regular maintenance. By removing leaves and twigs and ensuring proper drainage, you can prevent water buildup in the chimney. Homeowners should schedule professional chimney inspections and cleanings. 
  2. Inspection: To detect masonry deterioration, thorough inspections are a must. This requires looking for cracks, gaps, crumbling mortar joints, brick or stone damage, and structural irregularities.
  3. Repointing: Repointing or repairing mortar joints involves removing and replacing damaged mortar with new mortar. A proper and watertight seal between the bricks or stones is achieved at this stage. 
  4. Rebuilding: In extreme cases of masonry deterioration, rebuilding becomes necessary. It involves dismantling the chimney to its base and reconstructing it using new bricks or stones and fresh mortar. 
  5. Professional expertise: Seeking the advice of professionals should be done throughout the process, and is an important aspect during rebuilding or restoration. 

Final Thought 

To sum it up, understanding the various problems that can arise with a chimney and knowing how to address them is essential for homeowners. From chimney leaks and creosote buildup to damaged flue liners and draft issues, each problem requires specific solutions to ensure the safety, efficiency, and longevity of your chimney. By promptly addressing these issues, homeowners can maintain a well-functioning chimney system and enjoy the warmth and comfort of their homes with peace of mind.

ReNew Roofing is here to assist you with professional chimney inspections, repairs, and maintenance services. Our experienced team will identify and resolve chimney issues, providing tailored solutions to your needs. Trust ReNew Roofing to keep your chimney in optimal condition, ensuring a safe and efficient fireplace or heating system for years. Call us today at (813) 400-3329!

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