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Common Fireplace Problems That Affect Functionality

It’s common for fireplaces to sit idle all summer long and then for homeowners to be blindsided by issues once winter rolls around. Thankfully fireplace problems usually fit within a few categories that can be easily identified and fixed by professionals.

Chimney Cleaning Services Weymouth, MACreosote

This nasty substance is a byproduct of the chemicals and oils in wood that is incompletely burned and that float up into the chimney flue, it cools as it rises, condensing on the sides of the flue. It can turn hard and is usually a black or dark brown tar-like substance.

Besides being toxic and a fire hazard, creosote can hinder your fireplace’s ability to function by causing restricted airflow that could push smoke back down into your home. At the very least this means fires that don’t burn well and at worse it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or dangerous chimney fires.

Animals in the Flue

Do you hear evidence of animals in your flue? Animals tend to enjoy the warmth and privacy of an unused chimney. When animals build nests or die inside of a chimney it can cause an obstruction that can prevent the chimney from expelling fumes. A chimney cap can create a barrier that prevents squirrels, birds, and other animals from trying to use your chimney as their new home.


It may not be an animal obstructing your flue, falling leaves and branches, plastic bags, and other debris can end up in the chimney after a windstorm. It is not uncommon for garbage to even pile up or around the chimney cap which can prevent smoke and gases from leaving your chimney and send them back down into your home.

Closed Damper

A fireplace damper is a “movable plate for regulating the draft in a fireplace or stove.” This movable plate can usually be accessed by a chain or pull-down lever that allows you to open and close the damper. The damper should stay open when a fire is going on so that smoke can travel up and out of the chimney. Many times, homeowners believe they have an obstruction only to find out that their damper wasn’t open. It can also become stuck due to hardened soot.

Fireplace services in Scituate, MAPoor Quality Firewood

It’s not unusual for homeowners to light a fire and be completely disappointed with the results or even think there is something wrong with the fireplace, but it could actually be the firewood. For best results always use seasoned firewood. Unseasoned wood or fresh wood will still have a lot of moisture inside, which will keep it from burning properly, leading to a weak fire.

As stated earlier, these are very common issues that strike homeowners when they least expect it, but fortunately, there are simple solutions. It is always best to have regular inspections and maintenance in the form of a chimney sweep to catch these issues before they become serious hazards. Feel free to schedule your appointment online or give us a call at 781-383-0415.

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