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How to Handle Snow in Your Chimney Like a Pro

While there are more efficient ways to heat your home, nothing compares to the charm and nostalgia of a wood-burning fireplace. However, winter weather can take a terrible toll on your chimney, and in this post, we’ll show you how to deal with the effects of winter to keep your chimney safe and long-lasting.

water damage in chimney in Hopewell, NJThe Impact of Winter on Your Chimney

Snow, ice, moisture, and constant use are deadly to your chimney. Here are the primary dangers to watch for.

Creosote Buildup

Lower temperatures often mean more frequent fireplace use, which leads to an increase in creosote buildup. Creosote is a tar-like substance that’s a byproduct of wood combustion. This substance sticks to the inner walls of your chimney and can become a fire hazard if the buildup becomes too thick. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimney obstructions (including creosote) are the number one cause of chimney fires.

Structural Stress

Freezing and thawing cycles, typical in harsh winter climates, cause moisture to seep into the masonry materials and expand when it freezes. This expansion causes tiny cracks that can worsen every cycle, damaging mortar joints, causing brick spalling, and eventually compromising your chimney’s structural integrity. 


Winter also invites critters seeking shelter and warmth to take refuge in your chimney, which frequently means nests and debris causing blockage. Blockages restrict airflow, leading to dangerous backdrafts of smoke in the home.

Efficiency Loss

A poorly maintained chimney is an inefficient chimney. Chimney heat loss causes you to use more firewood and rely on your heater or furnace more to make up the difference. 

Combatting Winter’s Effects

Now that you know how dangerous winter can be for your chimney, here are a few things you can do to mitigate the damage and ensure your entire fireplace system is safe and efficient.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Before winter sets in, get your chimney cleaned and inspected by a certified professional. This helps reduce the likelihood of a fire and carbon monoxide buildup by removing creosote and other obstructions. Additionally, a chimney professional will inspect the structure for minor issues that could worsen and compromise its safety.

Install a Chimney Cap

Chimney caps are invaluable for preventing critters and other debris from getting into the chimney and causing problems. Chimney caps are simple and cost-effective methods to combat obstructions and further chimney damage.

Use Seasoned Firewood

Burning seasoned firewood, or dry wood, is more efficient than unseasoned wood, which has a higher moisture content. More moisture means a less efficient fire and more smoke, which leads to faster creosote buildup. Experts recommend using firewood that’s been seasoned for at least six months, but if you don’t have access to that, you can purchase pre-dried wood. 

Use a Chimney Liner

Most municipalities require having a chimney liner, so if your chimney doesn’t have one, it’s crucial to get one installed as soon as possible. Chimney liners protect the masonry materials from the corrosive byproducts of combustion and improve your fireplace’s efficiency by ensuring a proper draft. It also makes cleaning and maintenance easier. 

Apply Water Repellant Sealing

To combat the freeze/thaw cycle, apply a breathable water-repellent seal to your chimney’s exterior. Today’s sealing products last for years and prevent structural damage that can be expensive to repair. 

regular chimney maintenance in Robbinsville, NJ

Keep the Damper Closed

When you’re not using the fireplace, keep the damper closed to prevent cold air and moisture from getting in. Closing the damper in winter keeps the heat in, which may result in using your fireplace less and minimizing winter damage.

Call the Pros at Mercer County Chimney Service

Mercer County Chimney Service is the top-rated chimney and fireplace contractor in New Jersey and Mercer County. Our technicians are fully licensed and certified for your peace of mind. Whether you need winter-proofing, chimney inspections, maintenance, cleaning, rebuilding, or fireplace installation, you can count on our years of experience. 

Book your appointment today to get your chimney ready for winter by calling 609–802–5288