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Moisture entering chimney or flue must be stopped

Q. When we bought our 1915 house not long ago, it had a small trash-burning stove, which we replaced with a small air-tight wood stove. Now heavy stains are occurring at the ceiling around the chimney and running down to the floor. Too, the paint is peeling.

We have not had the chimney professionally cleaned. We also are told that burning orange peels will reduce the soot and creosote.

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How can we stop the stains? Can we cover the face of the chimney with artificial brick? Should we keep on burning the orange rinds? Should we have the chimney inspected by a professional?

Lyle and Vee Sentman, Reedley, Calif.

A. The 68-year-old flue may need some professional attention. If it were my house, I'd call in a seasoned masonry contractor, brick mason, or chimney sweep to inspect the chimney, not only to assure that it's safe, but also to assess the cause and cure of the stains.

Moisture somewhere, somehow is migrating into the flue or onto the chimney, thus causing the stains and peeling paint. The cure may simply be (1) new flashing at the chimney-roof line, or (2) sealing the vertical chimney face above the roof or the horizontal cap around the flue opening.

Moisture entering the chimney or the flue must be stopped.

Imitation brick might indeed be applied as a facade to the visible stained chimney, but that would not stop the moisture that causes the brown stains.

We, too, have heard that burning orange peels may reduce soot and creosote buildup in a wood-stove assembly. For verification, check Mother Earth News articles on the subject through a reference librarian at your local public library.

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