Have Winter Conditions Affected Your Chimney? It’s Possible!
As unlikely as it may seem, chimneys are vulnerable to freezing temperatures, much like pipes and plants. Other winter happenings can lead to chimney problems, as well. Annual chimney inspections are strongly recommended for safety reasons, and it’s helpful to schedule inspections in spring. That way, you can find out from a chimney expert whether your chimney fared well during harsh winter weather. If things have gone wrong, you have plenty of time to get chimney repairs done before chilly fall weather rolls back around.
Water Gets in and That’s Not Good
The costliest type of damage to a chimney is usually caused by moisture. Troubles start in various ways. A chimney crown may be cracked, allowing water to seep into the chimney masonry. The chimney flashing may not have the needed watertight seal to protect the masonry from moisture damage. The chimney cap may be damaged—or a chimney cap may need to be installed to help keep water out. Whatever started the moisture problem, it’s ice that finishes it!
When freezing temperatures occur, any water intrusion that has occurred in your chimney masonry becomes a big problem. First, the water inside the masonry freezes and expands up to about 9%. When the water expands, it causes the masonry to expand, as well. Then the water thaws and the bricks contract. All of that movement causes deterioration of the masonry.
If you’ve ever seen a leaning chimney, it is likely caused by the spalling that results from freezing and thawing moisture inside the masonry. Spalling is when the brick face breaks and pops off. A clear sign of spalling is when there is a pile of broken masonry around the chimney stack on the roof or on the ground below.
Spalling bricks are a clear sign of a deteriorating chimney. If repairs aren’t made, the chimney will begin leaning and could collapse altogether.
Animals Get in—Not Good!
Another winter reality is that animals are sometimes attracted to the warmth of chimneys. When birds, raccoons, snakes, and a variety of other creatures crawl into a chimney in winter, problems arise! Some animals can’t get back out. This means that the animal could enter your home the next time you open your damper. Just as bad, if not worse, the animal could die in your chimney, producing a smell so bad it’s hard to describe or imagine.
You may also light a fire at some point, not knowing that there is a bird’s nest or some other type of blockage in your chimney. This could cause a variety of issues, including:
- Toxic, potentially deadly gases could enter your home.
- A dangerous chimney fire could ignite.
Bird and animal droppings in your chimney can cause health concerns. If you ever need an animal removed from your chimney, be sure to call chimney experts because it is dangerous, risky work that professional chimney sweeps are trained for.
Tips to Prevent Chimney Problems in Winter
Ongoing chimney maintenance and routine inspections can help you avoid a spalling chimney. If you do not have a chimney cap, have one installed. It should include mesh that prevents animals from gaining access to your chimney. We recommend outside-mount custom chimney caps, also called band-around brick chimney caps, because they protect the entire chimney crown, as opposed to simply being a topper for the flue pipe. Protecting the chimney crown means that you are doing an even better job of ensuring that moisture keeps out.
Contact the Chimney Experts at Chimney Solutions
Winter is a time when hearths are most treasured but chimneys are most at risk. If you schedule ongoing chimney maintenance services with the certified chimney sweeps at Chimney Solutions, you can be assured that winters only produce good vibes, as far as the operation of your fireplace and chimney system is concerned. Call us today at (770) 255-1300 for chimney inspections, chimney cleaning, chimney masonry repair, and all of your chimney needs.