Snow lovers have been having a happy Connecticut winter; but, because of the weather, a lot of homeowners with chimneys may have something to deal with that’s not so cheerful. Snow on rooftops and freezing and thawing cycles coupled with moisture content in mortar and bricks can damage the chimney. Wet and wintry weather conditions cause the chimney to expand and contract, which results in cracks, gaps, and crumbling mortar. It’s unsafe to use a chimney that’s in a state of disrepair. An annual chimney inspection is recommended, anyway; you may want to schedule an inspection sooner rather than later, if you think your chimney may be in hazardous condition.
Chimney Damage Caused by Moisture
The deterioration of all of the components of brick and mortar chimneys is accelerated by prolonged contact with moisture. The mortar joints can erode when water seeps into them, and the bricks are subsequently weakened. Chimneys built with moisture-proof stones seem that they would be less vulnerable to harsh winter conditions. But while the stones are moisture-proof, the mortar which bonds them together makes stone chimneys as vulnerable to moisture as brick and mortar chimneys in many ways.
When moisture leaks down a chimney or permeates the bricks, there are many types of damage which can occur, such as the following:
• Walls in the home can be stained and wall coverings can be ruined
• Masonry and metal firebox assemblies can deteriorate
• The fireplace’s clean-out area can become clogged
• The damper assemblies can rust and fail to function properly
• Water mixed with creosote in the chimney can create an extremely bad smell, which can leak into the home
• The central cooling and heating system can be damaged
• The chimney exterior can become stained
• The chimney structure can tilt or collapse
Prevention is the Best Solution
Even though you can’t change the weather, you can take steps to prevent moisture damage, which could save you a lot of money in repairs.
Install a Chimney Cap
The installation of a chimney cap is probably the most commonsense and inexpensive approach to moisture prevention in a chimney. Without a chimney cap, large amounts of water can enter the chimney. Most caps also serve other important functions, as well. Chimney caps which also include mesh prevent animals from entering the chimney. They also serve as a spark guard, to help prevent the possibility of a fire caused by sparks flying out of the chimney.
Install a Cricket
A cricket is a ridge structure which serves to divert water on a roof away from the chimney. Depending upon where a chimney is located, water sometimes pounds steadily against the chimney structure. Crickets are typically very effective at protecting the chimney from being deluged with excessive amounts of water.
Waterproof the Chimney
Since the materials used to construct a masonry chimney are usually porous and tend to absorb large amounts of moisture, it can help to waterproof the chimney. Not all chimney professionals agree about the level of effectiveness of applying waterproofing agents, but it’s something our chimney professionals will be happy to discuss with you.
Call a Professional Chimney Sweep for Needed Repairs
When winter is over and the snow melts, it’s very possible you will discover that the condition of your chimney has deteriorated. It’s best to call a chimney professional, who can perform all needed repairs and get your ready for the next cold season.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
formerly Nayaug Chimney Services, LLC
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110