How To Spot Chimney Issues in the Summer

And what to do about them!

Your chimney endures a lot of abuse through the winter months: The heat and smoke from your fires, freezing temperatures and rain, snow, ice and sleet. It’s easy to forget about your chimney once warmer weather hits, but it’s important to be on the lookout issues during the summer months including chimney odors, water leaks and animals. 

Learn about all three common issues below or skip down to the section that you need!

Chimney Leaks

Animals in the Chimney

Chimney Odors

Chimney Leaks

Damage caused by a leaking chimney

Water poses a major hazard to your chimney, fireplace and your home. Water leaking into and around your chimney can cause rusted dampers, grates and doors in your fireplace. It can deteriorate your chimney or firebox masonry, cause staining on your chimney’s masonry or lead to a cracks, missing or deteriorated mortar joints between the clay flue tiles. If the water leaking from your chimney gains access to your home’s structure, it can discolor your walls or wall coverings, cause sagging ceiling or wallboard, or rot the wood supports of your home’s structure. Water in your chimney also can react with the creosote inside, filling your home with an unpleasant smell during the warm summer months.

Signs of water leaks

Because water can be so damaging to your chimney, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs that water is making its way into your chimney and fireplace system. Some signs are more obvious, while others are relatively subtle. Water pooling in the bottom of your fireplace is a clear indication that water is getting into your chimney. You also may notice rusting in your fireplace components. On the exterior of your home, cracked bricks or crumbling mortar can be a clear sign of water damage. Vegetation growth on the brick such as mold,mildew and algae can be observed. A less obvious sign is discoloration on your chimney’s bricks. Often, if water is penetrating chimney masonry, there will be whitish staining down the sides of the chimney bricks, this is called efflorescence.

Ways to prevent spring water damage

As with most things, when it comes to a leaking chimney, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One of the best ways to prevent water damage in your chimney is to inspect your chimney for signs of water damage each spring. Spring can be a great time for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, always have a professional sweep inspect your chimney,they inspect the chimney crown, cap and flashing for signs of deterioration that could lead to leaks. The sweep also will look for early signs of water leaks so you can fix the leak before it leads to major damage.

Animals in the Chimney

Birds and other critters can cause a lot of stress, damage, and inconvenience when it comes to your chimney system. They drag in excess debris, cause clogs, build nests, and make a lot of noise. Not to mention, critters that get in, but can’t get out will eventually pass away, inviting pest problems and nasty odors. All in all, animals entering your chimney is a big hassle! And don’t forget about the extra repair costs you’ll need to invest in down the line…

If this is a common problem for you, there are great solutions out there! And the staff at Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County can help. Learn about some options below.

Install A Chimney Cap

Chimney caps are a great way to seal the top of your chimney and keep animals out for good. They cover the opening at the top of the flue and having one installed is highly recommended by every organization in the chimney industry. In fact, the Underwriters Laboratories (who is nationally recognized for their safety codes and practices) says that a chimney cap must be present in order for a chimney lining system to meet their elite safety standards.

The great part about chimney caps is that they serve other benefits, as well. They help to keep water out of the inside of your chimney and exhaust flue, which significantly decreases your chance of water damage… and they prevent excess debris from entering your system, too. On top of this, they serve as spark arrestors, which helps protect your roof, and they can significantly decrease the number of down drafts that swoop into your living area.

They’re an affordable and efficient investment, and we know you won’t regret having one installed today. Give us a call to learn more.

Top Sealing Dampers

Another great way to keep animals out of your chimney and home is to have a top sealing damper installed. Throat dampers can work well in a chimney system, but, after time, they often start facing some issues. They become rusted and misaligned, which means you’ll be facing draft issues and increased energy costs. Also, while they stop animals from entering your home, they won’t stop them from entering your chimney.

Top sealing dampers have countless benefits. Like a chimney cap, they will keep out animals, prevent excess exposure to moisture, and block downdrafts… but the list doesn’t end there! You’ll also notice a decrease in your energy bills, as their rubber seal totally prevents heat from escaping your home and cold air from getting in. No more drafty chimneys for you!

Chimney Odors

Common causes of stinky chimneys

Once that smell starts to waft in from your chimney your first question likely is: What is that smell? Chimney odors have a few common causes, and the type of odor should give you a good indication of what is causing your chimney odor.

  • Creosote Odor - Crofton MD - Clean Sweep of AACreosote. In addition to posing a fire hazard, the creosote that builds up within your chimney also poses an odor hazard. When moisture mixes with creosote, especially in hot, humid weather, it causes an unpleasant burning smell similar to campfire.
  • Dead animals. As unpleasant as the thought is, animals do make their way — either intentionally or accidentally — into your chimney, where they can become trapped. A trapped animal will eventually die and begin to decay. Of course, the summer’s heat exacerbates that smell.
  • Animal nests. Animals also make their way into chimneys and make a home there. Animals that come and go, leaving droppings or food scraps, can leave a rotten, fecal smell as well as round worms and fleas within your chimney.
  • Debris. Leaves, twigs and other natural debris can blow into your chimney, causing a buildup of organic matter that can decay. If debris is to blame, the odor from your chimney will be a natural decaying smell.
  • Water leaks. Chimney odors also can be a warning sign that water is leaking into your chimney. While moisture from a leak can make any of the above smells more severe, on its own, water leaking into a chimney can cause a moldy, mildew-like or damp smell.

Eliminating chimney odors

After worrying about the cause of the odor, your attention likely will turn to eliminating your chimney odor as quickly as possible. There are a few steps you can take to eliminate and prevent unpleasant chimney odors from entering your home.

  • Chimney sweeping and inspection. A chimney sweeping and inspection is the first step in eliminating your chimney odor. Your sweeping will clear away the cause of the odors, whether that is creosote, debris or animals, and the sweeping will help identify any contributing factors, such as leaks. Your chimney technician also can help you explore ways to prevent chimney odors in the future.
  • Top-sealing dampers. Top-sealing dampers, which close off your chimneys from the outside when you aren’t burning a fire, prevent animals and debris from entering your chimney to cause odors. They also block chimney drafts that can allow odors to flow back into your home.
  • Chimney exhaust fans. In some cases, negative pressure in the home and the chimney’s draft is to blame for chimney odors entering the home. Instead of air flowing up into the chimney and out the top, air flows backward into the home, bringing odors with it. A chimney exhaust fan can keep odors flowing in the right direction.

Ready to address water issues with your chimney?

When you call we will have a couple questions for you.

  1. What is the appliance needing inspection? Is it a furnace, wood stove, or gas fireplace?
  2. What does the outside of the chimney look like? Is brick, stone,block, covered in siding or a metal pipe?
  3. Are you having any problems with your system? Campfire smell or odor, animals or birds getting in, system smokes inside the home when you use it, water leaks?
  4. Are you buying or selling your home?
    This information allows us to explain what our technicians will do when they come to your home and what to expect during our inspection process.
    *If you don’t know these answers, it’s okay! We can help you figure it out.


You may not noticed that we don’t have prices listed with our services. That is because pricing is decided on multiple factors including the number of flues, type of appliance, etc. We are not the cheapest, but our testimonials are proof that we make our clients happy. For more information on pricing before your appointment give us a call!

AJ once again completed excellent service. Very satisfied with the fantastic cleaning and care to my home. Thank you again.

Gloria M

Local Homeowner

Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel thank you so much! Willis and Eric were awesome. They not only explained everything they did but they also showed us detailed report with pictures. We will recommend you to everyone.

Catherine S.

Local Homeowner

We have used your company for many years. They come when they are scheduled and work neatly and efficiently. That is why I will use them year after year!

Roy W.

Local Homeowner