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3 Common Winter Chimney Issues

The Boston area has some brutal winters. Memorable, even. Winter is hard on people, and it’s also hard on chimneys. Here are three of the most common winter chimney damage issues and what needs to be done.

cracked chimney flue, hull maChimney structural damage

The bricks and mortar that make up your chimney are prone to cracking over the years. When water gets into the cracks, it freezes when temperatures drop and then expands, causing larger cracks and eventually leaks.

Freezing weather along with pounding hail, fierce winds and lightning strikes all can cause serious damage to a chimney structure. Structural damage is best addressed by:

  • Brick replacement
  • Tuckpointing to replace areas of crumbling mortar
  • Partial or complete chimney rebuilding
  • Chimney waterproofing to prevent leak issues before they start.

Neglecting chimney structural damage can lead to severe water damage, a leaning chimney and a completely collapsed chimney.

Leaky chimney

Water can enter a chimney system in ways other than through compromises in the masonry. Issues such as a damaged chimney cap, cracked chimney crown and warped or rusted chimney flashing all will allow water to get into the chimney system.

Watch for these signs of a leaky chimney and then call a licensed chimney company for help:

  • Water in the firebox
  • White staining (efflorescence) on the exterior masonry
  • Musty odors coming from the fireplace – or the attic or crawl spaces
  • Damp sections of the ceiling or walls near the chimney/fireplace

Your technician can repair some of these issues; in other cases, he or she will suggest the replacement of certain components that are allowing the leak.

chimney obstruction, duxbury maDrafting problems due to obstructions

If you run your chimney without a proper chimney cap to cover the flue openings, you’re paving the way for all types of outside debris to intrude. Leaves and twigs from nearby trees can build up inside a flue and seriously hamper the chimney’s ability to draft smoke and carbon monoxide, which can be fatal to people and pets.

Additionally, small animals such as squirrels, birds, raccoons and rodents may choose to take shelter in your chimney during colder weather. Some of these animals eventually build nests, which adds to the drafting obstruction. Some of these animals die inside the chimney, making matters even worse.


The solution here is two-fold:

  1. Have a custom chimney cap installed by an experienced technician
  2. Have your chimney flue professionally cleaned to remove debris as well as built-up flammable creosote. (You should have your chimney cleaned once a year, even if you don’t notice any problems.)

Keep your chimney clean and safe

Above & Beyond Chimney Service of Dedham, MA, specializes in winter chimney damage solutions. We provide structural and component repair, chimney cleaning, leak and drafting-problem resolution, chimney rebuilding and licensed chimney inspections.

We carry certification through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and are members of the National Chimney Sweep Guild. We’re a Massachusetts Licensed Contractor and a Licensed Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor that is fully insured for your protection.

Treat your chimney right, and it will treat you right. Speak with a chimney expert today at (781) 383-0415.