How Winter Weather Damages Your Chimney
Many people think that because their chimney is made from brick and mortar, it’s impervious to the elements because we see chimneys that have been standing for hundreds of years. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Winter weather is especially detrimental to your chimney, so you must stay on top of routine maintenance and repairs to minimize damage and prevent your chimney from collapsing. Let’s look at the damage winter weather can do to your chimney.
Spalling means brickwork that’s flaking or breaking away and is caused by moisture penetration. Chimney masonry materials are porous, absorbing water like a sponge. During freeze/thaw cycles, moisture in bricks and mortar expands, creating tiny cracks that worsen over time if you don’t stay on top of maintenance. If spalling gets out of control, the chimney may lean or collapse.
It’s common for ice to form on your roof and around your chimney during severe winter snowstorms. When ice builds up, it creates an ice dam, forcing moisture into the bricks and mortar joints. As discussed, moisture penetration leads to cracked brickwork and a compromised chimney.
Flashing is metal material installed where the roof butts against protrusions like your chimney to protect against water intrusion. Freezing rain, ice, snow, and heavy wind can wreak havoc with your roof, loosening the flashing and allowing water into your house.
Animals seek warm nesting places during winter, and what better place than in your chimney? It’s common to find raccoons, birds, and squirrels setting up their homes inside a flue, so it’s crucial to install a cap to prevent them from getting in. If an animal gets into the flue, it often can’t get out. Dead animals and bird nests create blockages that affect your fireplace performance and could act as fuel for a chimney fire.
How to Prevent Winter Weather Chimney Damage
The good news is that you can take steps to protect your chimney from foul winter weather, and here’s how to do it.
Install a Chimney Cap
As mentioned, every chimney should have a cap. A chimney cap pushes rain and snow away from the chimney, protecting the crown from water damage. Moreover, chimney caps make it difficult for critters to get in, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Get an Inspection
The best way to ensure your chimney remains in good condition is to schedule an annual inspection by a certified chimney professional before winter. A certified chimney inspector will identify minor damage and safety issues and recommend the necessary repairs to keep your chimney safe and prevent further damage.
Winter isn’t the time to take care of needed chimney repairs, and because severe winter weather will worsen current damage, it’s best to take care of repairs in the summer or fall. Typical repairs include shoring up mortar joints, crack repairs, and replacing rusted dampers, and broken flue tile repair.
Waterproof Your Chimney
Once you’ve taken care of necessary repairs, ask your chimney service to apply a waterproof coating. Waterproofing keeps moisture from seeping into the bricks and mortar, and extends the lifespan of the chimney. Many waterproof coatings last for years, making it a wise, cost-effective investment.
Call Mercer County Chimney Service
Mercer County Chimney Service is the go-to chimney professional in Hamilton, NJ, and Mercer County. Our technicians are certified, licensed, and insured, so you can trust the work they perform. Whether you need chimney sweeping, repairs, rebuilding, or installations, you can count on us. Contact us today to get your chimney winter-ready at 609-802-5288.