What Is a Witches Crook? Will It Affect My Chimney?

Some chimneys out there have a slight bend built into them. Sometimes this bend is visible, but it is often built out of sight in the attic. This bend is known as a witches crook and, when homeowners discover them, they tend to have a lot of questions… Fortunately, we’ve got answers.witches crook in chimney Pittsburgh PA

Why Does My Fireplace Have a Witches Crook?

A witches crook is most often built as an aesthetic feature so that your chimney can be placed in a location that makes the most sense for the look and functionality of your home. At the time your home was built, the fireplace was probably put in a location that wasn’t directly below where the chimney would look best outside. The witches crook in your chimney rectifies that.

Why Is It Called a Witches Crook?

The fireplace and chimney have been a key part of what makes a house a home from the beginning, as humans gave up their nomadic ways and began building structures where they could escape the elements and provide comfort to their families. And, for as long as fireplaces have been a part of the home, fables, myths, legends, traditions, and folklore have been told around them.

But how many of these stories actually pertain to fireplaces and chimneys, themselves?

Perhaps the most recognized chimney-related tale in our era is that of Santa Claus coming through it at Christmas bringing gifts. And in the Netherlands, they also had a story of Santa coming down the flue – only he was accompanied by a small demon figure that would leave a lump of coal for naughty children. In the outer islands of Scotland, children would leave treats out near their fireplace to appease these evil creatures.

And as for the witches crook? Well, it too originated from an old fable.

In Italy, the legend of Befana was one of their popular chimney-related tales. Befana was an old woman who would come on Epiphany Eve bringing gifts for good children and coal for naughty children. She was known to be a great housekeeper and would sweep away the year’s problems when she came down the chimney. Families would leave a glass of wine and cookies for her.

Befana was often portrayed in stories and in art as carrying a broom, wearing a long hooded cloak that was covered in black soot, and having stick-like hair – sound familiar? As these tales evolved over time and got all mixed together, the old woman attached to them turned into what we now call witches.

Eventually, a new legend was born. In this new folktale, witches weren’t people you wanted in, or anywhere close to your home. Fortunately, as it turns out, witches can’t fly at an angle. Therefore, the bend in the chimney got turned from an architectural fix to something that was put in to keep witches from flying straight down through chimney and into your home.

Is My Witches Crook A Hazard?

According to the legends, your witches crook might be a blessing as it keeps the witches at bay.  On a more serious note, however, your witches crook is very likely not a problem in and of itself, and it is uncommon to have to rebuild or remove a witches crook from your chimney,  In fact, having a witches crook in your chimney might very well mean that it was put together by an above average mason, as they are not always easy to construct.

That being said, there are always things you should keep an eye out for as a chimney owner.  Watch for signs of water damage and leaks. Water is a major enemy of brick and mortar, but issues can usually be remedied fairly easily if caught early enough.

Other things to keep a lookout for are creosote buildup, clogs in the chimney, animals making nests or finding a home inside the chimney, and general deterioration. Scheduling annual inspections with a certified sweep will always be in your best interests.

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Fortunately, these types of normal maintenance problems don’t usually stem from simply having a witches crook. 

Do You Need Chimney Care? Give Our Experts a Call

At Advance Chimney Sweeps we excel at spotting problems and keeping you safe from hazards that can cause trouble throughout your chimney. Our team of specialists are trained to inspect your chimney and help you determine if further help is needed.

We invest heavily in the hiring, training, and education of our employees, so that you can experience the highest quality of life, along with the comfort of knowing that your chimney and fireplace are safe from hazards – and any witches with a breaking and entering problem. 

When you put your chimney in our hands you can be assured your fireplace, chimney, and family will be given the highest quality care. So, gather around your fireplace, continue telling tales, and build your own family stories, traditions, and memories, all while enjoying the warmth, and joy that a healthy maintained chimney can provide.

Call 412-729-2446 or reach out to us online today!