Possible Chimney Blockage see photo

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.


New Member
Jan 25, 2022
Check out the photo with my post. I have a Wood Burning Fireplace insert that was installed in 2011 when the home was constructed. Smoke has started coming in if the door is opened really badly. I started seeing ghost flames and that’s when I said no more burning until I figure it out.
I ran a camera up and when I got to the top I ran into what you see in the photo. It is not the top of the chimney cap.
Before I just try and bust through it I wanted to see if anyone knew what that might be. A screen of some sorts? Any advice on how to clean it. All of the cleaning heads I have won’t work because they clean the side and not above. But if I just need to break through whatever is there I will do that.
Are you referring to the shiny black circle on the right in the photo? It looks like creosote. You probably have to get up on the roof to check things out and clean it.
Yes, I meant to state that and forgot. What you’re seeing on the left of photo is the light from camera hitting the pole it’s attached to. I do not have a rigid camera so it needs assistance going up. Very difficult to work from the top down. 3 stories up on a steep roof.
Could it be some type of Bee infestation at one point that over time got covered on the bottom with creosote?
Looks like just creosote to me.

How often have you cleaned the chimney since 2011
I did rub some of the creosote from it and I see what appears to be copper so I am now convinced that this is my top cap. I also notice the drip formations hanging. If this is my cap it has side vents that I do not see in any of the video I took. So that tells me the side vents are clogged with creosote.
Looks like a sad, trapped Ewok in that last pic. Set him free.
"Very difficult to work from the top down. 3 stories up on a steep roof."

Since it sounds like you cannot access the top of the chimney I would hire someone to use a bucket truck and clean the top of the chimney and the cap.
Then I would do some research on why you have so much creosote building up in your chimney and cap. Wood that is not well seasoned and/or a chimney that allows the smoke to cool down too fast are the common reasons.