Chimney leaking smoke

Is your chimney leaking smoke into your home?

Did you know that chimneys in the CB1 and CB4 area tend to have the worst deterioration rate within a 25-mile radius of Cambridge?

Chimneys over time disintegrate and can cause smoke to leak into your home, typically into bedrooms which is downright dangerous.

Our 35 years’ experience maintaining chimneys within this area has enabled us to see first-hand local chimney trends and we’ve found in recent years that the deterioration of chimneys in the CB1 and CB4 area is much worse than other areas.

Why do chimneys deteriorate?

The soot, tar and creosote produced from burning wood or coal has acid in it.  This acid attacks the cement which hold the bricks together in the chimney stack and over time the cement disintegrates.  This leaves hundreds, if not thousands, of miniscule holes up and down your chimney.  If you look at the diagram, you can see that the partition wall in between the two flues is at most risk because it is being attacked on both sides by acid erosion.  This is why the inside of your chimney can be in poor condition while the outside is in good condition.

Acid attack from soot

Acid attack from soot

Why is this a problem?

When you light your fire, the smoke should be exiting out the top of the chimney stack.  With a leaking chimney, while most will exit out the top you will also get smoke seeping into the adjacent flue which, in most cases, causes smoke to leak into the upstairs bedrooms.

What to do?

A flue integrity test can be carried out on the flue of your open fireplace to identify what your flue’s safe leakage rate is and what the actual leakage rate is.  This gives a clear pass or fail result and also identifies by what degree your flue has passed or failed.  This is useful because if the flue passes, we can advise by what degree and when the flue should be checked again in the future.

“It’s essential to be able to identify whether or not your chimney is leaking and if so what’s required to resolve it.  That’s why the flue integrity equipment is a great bit of kit; not only can it tell you whether your chimney has passed or failed the leakage test, it can tell you by what degree.  That means very accurate advice and timelines can be given.”

Bil Wight, Founder of Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps

What if my chimney is leaking?

The solution is to have your chimney lined.  You can either keep your open fireplace or use the opportunity to install a stove – either way both options can have a liner which will stop the smoke from leaking into adjacent flues.

Once the chimney is lined there are a number of things you can do to help improve the longevity of the liner and reduce acid erosion, for more information please get in touch with us or look on our website at the various blog articles we have written on the subject.

We’d like to help you resolve any concerns you may have about the safety of your chimney.

If you have any queries about the lining of your chimney, have smelt smoke when you have lit a fire, experienced debris falling down your chimney or would like to discuss booking a chimney sweep or flue integrity test, please call 01223 964356 or email us

If you’d like more information or an estimate on lining your chimney, complete our online calculator which takes less than 2 minutes and get an estimate straight to your inbox.

Alternatively, book your FREE site survey NOW with our stove and liner specialist Paul, who will visit you and discuss any chimney and fireplace issues and requirements you have and provide you with a no obligation liner quotation.

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