Chimneys do a lot for a home. They ensure the smoke and fumes from your fireplace are sent safely outdoors, they protect your woodwork from the heat your fires produce, and they add an aesthetic appeal that is undeniable. Yet, as we approach Halloween, there’s another feature some chimneys possess that you might want to know about… the witches crook!
If you’ve ever noticed a peculiar bend in your chimney (most likely in the attic), then you are the proud owner of a witches crook. Not all chimneys have them, but if yours does you won’t have to worry about any scheming enchantresses entering your home on October 31st! Learn more about these (and how to maintain them) below.
The History of the Witches Crook
So, where did this term originate from? Well, it’s said that witches can only fly in a straight line, which means that if they wanted to get into your home to cast a spell, all they’d need to do is take a quick downward trip through your chimney. Yet, if your chimney has a slight bend, the cackling hag would be stopped dead in her tracks and forced to retreat – easy solution, right?
Now, this is a fun old wives’ tale, but the truth behind the origin of a witches crook is actually a lot more practical. Back in the day, homeowners would prefer their fireplace be in the center of the home (to ensure more heat), but masons didn’t have the high-tech equipment we currently do. They had to make a rough guess as to where to start! This means the structure often wouldn’t line up correctly with the peak of the roof, which was the common look for homes back then.
If they were a little off, adjustments would need to be made, and that’s where the witches crook comes in. Once they got to the attic (where these imperfections could be easily hidden), they would build the bricks at an angle, and when they got to the peak of the roof, they would simply extend the chimney straight again. It still looked aesthetically-pleasing from the outside, and no one was the wiser – pretty tricky, huh?
I Have a Witches Crook! Should I Be Worried About Structural Issues?
If you have a witches crook, you may be concerned that you face greater risk of experiencing structural issues, but there typically isn’t a need to worry. In reality, constructing a masonry chimney at an angle takes great skill, so it was likely completed by someone who was very knowledgeable in their trade. An angled chimney should function just as efficiently as one that is straight, so don’t stress too much!
That being said, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye out for structural flaws that are common in masonry chimneys. While the slanted design won’t hinder anything, water damage, bad weather, animal entry, chimney fires, and more definitely will. As with any fireplace, keep an open eye for damages, and always call in a certified expert to look things over if you have concerns about anything.
Here at Total Chimney Care, we offer a wide range of repair services, such as tuckpointing, crown repair, brick replacement, and more. We’ll get your system looking good and standing strong, so you can rest easy through the end of the year. Reach out now, so we can figure out which of our services would be best suited to your unique needs.
And Don’t Forget Your Inspection!
Witches crook or not, annual inspections are always recommended before starting your burning season. This time of year is spooky enough without the added stress of house fires, gas leaks, and more, and our team of CSIA certified sweeps can spot any malfunctions well before they become big and dangerous problems. Even if you don’t notice any obvious concerns, hidden obstructions or interior decay could be triggering some pretty substantial threats.
What can you expect from our crew? Well, if you have your chimney inspected every year, haven’t made any big structural changes, haven’t changed your fuel type, and do your best to burn only dry, well-seasoned wood, a level 1 inspection should be all you need. We’ll look things over to ensure all of your visible chimney parts are still intact, and we’ll check for build-up and excess creosote, too. Once we’re done, you’ll be good to go. It’s an easy and effective way to get that peace of mind you and your family deserve!
In other situations, a level 2 inspection might be needed. These include everything in a level 1 inspection, along with a video scan of your chimney’s interior. We’ll snake camera equipment up your flue to get an in-depth and up-close look at everything. A level 2 inspection should be completed after buying/selling a home, as well as after natural disasters, chimney fires, changes in fuel types, and any type of reconstruction work.
And finally, there are level 3 inspections. These are rare, and will only be needed if parts of your fireplace or chimney need to be deconstructed in order to access the problem at hand.
Now, we know witches find these chimney bends challenging, but don’t let that worry you come Christmas… the slant actually makes it much easier for Santa to slide right on down! Just be certain your chimney is ready for him by having us look everything over as soon as you can. Have a safe holiday, and be sure to count on Total Chimney Care for all of your fireplace needs this fall and winter. Call or reach out on our website today.