Chimney Troubleshooting - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Sevices
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Troubleshooting Your Chimney

If you have a feeling that something is awry with your chimney and are experiencing symptoms of a “sick” chimney but have no idea what the diagnosis may be, the chimney technicians at A to Z Chimney Services can inspect your chimney to determine what’s causing the problem—whether it’s a leak, a bad odor, or smoke in your living space. Don’t put off doing something about your sick chimney, as many fireplace and chimney issues can end up being very dangerous to your health and your property.

Some of the problems we find and correct most often include:

A Smoking Chimney: Your fireplace should not release smoke into your home. If it does, it may be because your damper is not open all the way or because high winds have created a downdraft. Both scenarios are easily remedied with the installation of a new damper and/or a chimney cap. Your chimney may also be smoking because its overstacked, which you can read more about below. Visit our Smoking Chimney page to read further about what causes chimneys to smoke.

A Smelly Chimney: It’s not uncommon for a fireplace to take on an unpleasant odor, often described as a wet campfire-like smell. While a professional sweeping can sometimes resolve the odor by removing built-up creosote and debris, a smelly chimney may also be indicative of another problem, such as negative air pressure or a leak.

Fireplace Draft Issues: You may experience draft problems for a number of reasons, including improper flue sizing, a flue blockage, air intrusion into the flue, mechanical depressurization, insufficient chimney height, or resistance from below. Read more about what causes fireplace draft issues.

Chimney Construction Problems: Overstacked And Short Stacked Chimneys

There are two types of chimney construction problems that we regularly encounter—short-stacked and overstacked chimneys.

over-exposed flue tiles

These over-extended flue tiles are a potential danger as the exposed mortar loses its adhesive qualifies over time.

Overstacked Chimneys: Often when a fireplace spills smoke into the home rather than drawing smoke up the chimney, the first conclusion most people reach is that the chimney must be extended. Admittedly, making a chimney taller is sometimes the correct solution to a smoking problem, but this height extension has to be done properly. Overstacking occurs when someone attempts to extend the height of the chimney by simply adding terra cotta flue tiles to the top of the chimney, without building up the appropriate supporting brickwork surrounding it. These over-extended flue tiles are a potential danger as the exposed mortar loses its adhesive qualities over time. It is only a matter of time before the mortar turns to sand and a precariously perched overstacked flue tile comes tumbling down. If your chimney has been overstacked, bricks may need to be added to extend your chimney properly and support the overstacked flue tiles, or the overstacked flue tiles must be removed for safety purposes.

short chimney on top of chimney chase pan

Short stacked chimneys often sit directly on top of the chase pan cover with no chimney pipe visible.

Shortstacked Chimneys: Shortstacked chimneys occur when the contractor installing the fireplace and chimney shows up without enough chimney pipe to complete the job. Rather than making a second trip back with enough chimney pipe, the installers sometimes “forget,” and the homeowner is left to deal with a potentially dangerous situation. In extreme cases, the chimney pipe doesn’t even reach the chase pan cover, and smoke and hot gases spill directly into the hollow wooden chase. If your chimney is shortstacked, discontinue use until additional chimney pipe has been installed so that hot flue gases from your fires can vent into the outside atmosphere safely.

Do you have a chimney problem for us to solve? That’s what we do best. Make an appointment with A to Z Chimney Services today! Email us at or fill out our online appointment form.


Have you done your annual chimney sweep yet? This is an important regular home maintenance task that regularly gets neglected. Ask us more about this and other important services.

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