Checking a chimney

Chimney safety should be a concern for every homeowner. Each year, lives and property are lost due to improper care and maintenance of chimneys. You can check some parts of the chimney yourself.

Mechanical troubles with fireplaces: dampers

Corrosion and debris are the most common causes of stuck dampers. Your chimney professional can lubricate the moving parts and make adjustments, or recommend a new damper if yours is damaged beyond repair.

Smoky Fireplaces

Ron Herman

There have been numerous “Smoke Signals” lately regarding smoky fireplaces. This is understandable as we were leading up to the Christmas time Holidays. Many picture their families gathered together in their homes around the crackling fireplace. Everyone is happily sharing their treasured family stories, some funny, some bringing tears to their eyes of loved ones who have passed on.

Fireplace chimney smokes or wood stove chimney smokes. Why?


Chimneys smoking back into the home is a common problem. There are many reasons chimneys smoke into the home and this article will examine several of them.This is probably the most common question that homeowners ask the chimney sweeps on the Chimney Professional Forum, an Internet discussion list for chimney professionals. It’s also one of the questions I most frequently heard from my customers as an in-the-field chimney sweep.


Todd Woofenden

One of the great misunderstandings in the world of woodstoves is how creosote fits into the picture. Contrary to popular belief, creosote is not an inevitable product of wood burning. Creosote forms when wood is burned incompletely, and is an indication of improper use, poor installation, or a poor wood stove design.

Woodstove problems: poor performance

Todd Woofenden

Sometimes it seems that the stove just isn’t working as well as it used to. If there is no obvious problem, such as smoking, catalyst malfunction, etc., but it just doesn’t seem to be doing the job it used to, consider the possibilities in this article.

Woodstove problem: catalytic combustor

Todd Woofenden

If your stove has a catalytic combustor, it is critical that it be in good working condition, as the efficiency of the stove depends almost entirely on the cat. ?  In general, If you have followed the instructions for lighting the stove, waited until it is up to the correct temperature, and engaged the cat, within a few minutes the stove should be burning steadily, with little or no visible smoke exiting the chimney.

Woodstove problem: woodstove gaskets

Todd Woofenden

Gaskets around doors, ash pans, air intakes, or between metal panels of a wood stove are critical to proper stove performance. Leaky or missing gaskets let air in in the wrong place, fouling the burn and often severely reducing burn efficiency.

Woodstove problem: cracked or broken glass

Todd Woofenden

Under normal conditions of use, the stove glass will not crack or break. Causes of glass breakage are varied including that of improper glass installation.

Woodstove problems: warped or broken parts

Todd Woofenden

The metal plates on the inside of the stove are there to protect the outside of the stove from damage. If any of the burn plates becomes cracked or badly warped, replace it. It is a lot cheaper than replacing the whole stove down the road!

Woodstove problems: dampers

Todd Woofenden

Woodstove damper problems are sometimes fixed with little effort. Other times, a fix is not so easy.

Smoky woodstove: smoky on wet days in other rooms

Todd Woofenden

Some stoves seem to work just fine except when it is wet out. If this seems to be the case, pay close attention to the weather when you have smoking problems. It is easy to confuse wind-related problems with rain-related problems.

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Smoke Signals: Have a question about your chimney?