During this year’s long and cold winter, many families used their fireplaces as a way to keep warm as well as a place to gather and relax with loved ones. And while our fireplaces did an excellent job of providing heat during the bad weather we had this winter, that same weather could have seriously damaged your chimney.
Although chimneys are built to last, they can still be seriously damaged in as little as one winter season. Because of this, we recommend that our customers have their chimneys swept and inspected this spring to catch any damage that may have occurred.
How winter weather affects your chimney
The primary way that winter weather affects your chimney is through water damage. While there are a number of ways that water can get into your chimney, below are some of the most common causes of water entry.
Masonry: Bricks are the ideal material for building chimneys because they are naturally porous, letting dangerous gasses pass through them and into the outside air. However, this same porous quality also allows small amounts of water into the brick. When temperatures drop, this water freezes and expands. As it melts, it leaves behind gradually larger and larger holes. This freeze thaw process can cause masonry to crack, crumble, and fall way from the chimney structure.
Flashing: Flashing is typically a metal strip used to protect the joint between the chimney and the roofline. Flashing can lose its water tight seal due to settling, warping from temperature changes, and even being installed incorrectly.
Chimney cap: The chimney cap protects the top of the flue. If damaged, water, debris, and even animals can get into the chimney structure. This can not only cause damage to the flue lining, but can also create a fire hazard if smoke and gas are obstructed from escaping.
Preventing chimney damage
One of the best ways to prevent damage to your chimney is through regular annual maintenance. During a yearly chimney inspection, certified technicians can evaluate the condition of your chimney. This allows them to better see changes from year to year and spot any damage before it turns into a major concern. Likewise, by having yearly cleanings or inspections repairs can be made as needed, saving considerable time and money over what could turn into a massive, emergency repair.
Waterproofing products can also be applied to bricks to help prevent moisture damage. These specially designed products allow gasses to still pass through the brick while keeping moisture out. This can help prolong the life of your masonry and protect cracked brick from further damage before it needs to be replaced.
If you think your chimney was damaged during this year’s harsh winter or just need to schedule your annual sweep and inspection, contact Mason’s Chimney Service today. Our highly trained and certified technicians can inspect your fireplace and chimney, make repairs as needed, and get your chimney system ready for use again next fall.