Does Your Chimney Require Repairs

Taking a working chimney for granted can be costly as certain repairs are commonly required over a lifetime. You might see things such as bricks flaking or your chimney leaning that indicates your chimney will require inspection or repair. However, some repairs can only be identified by a professional.

Nesting animals, harsh weather, and general wear and tear can cause damage to the brick and mortar internally. This can lead to leaks, breaks, and cracks that require chimney and masonry repairs. The best way to ensure that the system is operating properly is to have an inspection performed by a fireplace and chimney professional.

Many newer homes feature fireplaces with chimney liners that prevent smoke from entering the home. A fireplace in an older home may not have this liner and the outdated technology can contribute to erosion over time. Though the construction of older and newer systems is similar, the materials used can vary greatly.

Chimney Liner Installation
Using A Lift To Install A Chimney Liner System

How To Identify That Help Is Needed

Here are some common symptoms of chimney issues. Look for these when evaluating whether your chimney system requires repairs:

  • Smoky smell even without a fire—when moisture builds up on the creosote over time, a constant smoky smell can develop. If this occurs, chimney sweeping is required.
  • Smoking Back or Back Puffing into the home—If a fire is lit when the outside temperature is warmer than the home interior temperature, the system may begin smoking back. The smoke cannot be drawn from the chimney so it comes back into the home. A blocked or dirty appliance can also cause smoking back, so the area should be inspected and swept.
  • Rotting smell—a dead animal stuck in the ventilation area can result in this odor. The area should be swept clean and one of the compatible sized chimney caps should be installed to prevent future animal invasions. If a cap is already in place, the professional should inspect it for gaps or cracks.
Severe Brick Spalling

Severe Brick Spalling – Where the brick is literally falling apart

  • Powdery white substance appears on the exterior—this condition is called efflorescence and it indicates water damage. The professional will clean it off and apply a water repellent to the area, then install a chimney cap.
  • Rust appears on the cap or chase cover—this is usually due to improper drainage that allows water to pool on the cap or chase, leading to rust. The affected cap or chase cover should be replaced.
  • Dripping noise coming from the area—this may be caused by a water leak. Be sure that the damper is fully closed. If your system has a top sealing damper or a cap, this component should prevent rain from entering the area. However, if the area is sealed and the dripping noise continues, have a professional inspection to discover the source of the leak. Ignoring a leak can result in damage that requires costly repairs.
  • Cracked bricks in the interior—a prefabricated fireplace typically features a refractory panel on the sides and rear of the fireplace, which looks like bricks. Depending on its size, a heat refractor may need to be installed or the panel may require replacement.  Have any cracked bricks in the firebox inspected by a professional.  If you have a masonry fireplace, you are looking at the firebrick and these may require replacement by a professional fireplace mason, which most chimney technicians are.
  • Interior or exterior bricks are crumbling—this condition, known as spalling, results from water damage and most commonly occurs in a masonry system that may or may not have a flue liner. Spalling is usually irreparable and, instead, requires replacing the entire section of bricks. Have a professional perform an evaluation to determine whether this complex and costly repair is necessary.

Things That Can Damage a Chimney

There are several things that commonly damage chimneys:

  • Lack of regular maintenance
  • Wind
  • Water – including rain
  • Smoke
  • Debris
  • Creosote
  • Bats, birds, raccoon’s and other small animals

Regardless of where you live, your chimney system can incur damage. Chimney evaluations are recommended in areas that have experienced strong storms over the past year. The inspection will identify whether any damage has occurred. It is extremely important to protect the system from absorbing excess water, which can result in rusted caps or chases, cracks in bricks, and more.

Why Use The Mad Hatter Pros

The  experienced professionals at The Mad Hatter know the best ways to correct issues resulting from excess water. Applications like CrownSeal and ChimneySaver water repellent prevent water intrusion without restricting the breatheability of the masonry, enabling proper functioning of the system. Regular maintenance is the best way to prevent water damage and the need for comprehensive repairs.

Repairs Most Commonly Performed By The Mad Hatter:

  • Install or replace chimney caps
  • Install or replace chase covers
  • Install or replace damper handles and dampers
  • Repair chimney crowns or apply CrownSeal
  • Apply ChimneySaver water repellent
  • Install heat reflectors
  • Replace refractory panels that have cracked
  • Cover fireplace profile cracks with ChamberTech2000

Before using your fireplace or woodstove, be sure all necessary repairs and updates are completed so everything is up to code and operating safely. By having regular maintenance performed, you correct small issues before they become larger and more expensive problems.

If you would like to schedule immediate chimney and masonry repair services, please contact us at 317-596-0200. To schedule your appointment in the future, you can call us or fill out our scheduling form.


Your dryer vents need regular inspecting and cleaning as well to avoid the potential of health and safety problems. Be sure you hire professionals like The Mad Hatter in Indianapolis to take care of servicing your chimneys and vents.