How Temperature Changes Affect Your Chimney
A chimney is a vital part of your home and being aware of its condition is essential. For many homeowners, the fireplace is their primary source of heat during the winter. While chimneys are constructed for strength and durability, exposure to extreme hot and cold weather conditions can weaken its structure. And the winter storms here in Upstate New York can get downright messy. The rain, sleet and snow not only cause havoc on area roadways, it can also wreak havoc on your chimney.
By periodically inspecting the condition of your chimney, you’ll be able to detect problems and make any necessary repairs before they become more extensive.
Water is the chimney’s number one enemy. It not only damages exterior masonry work, but it also damages the flue and interior components. In uncapped chimneys, water easily gets inside exposing the flue liner, damper, and firebox to rust and corrosion. Clay bricks are manufactured with a hard, outer shell that protects the porous material against moisture. But over time, this hard shell deteriorates. Tiny cracks will begin to develop in the porous surface that allows moisture to seep in. As moisture continues to weaken the bricks and mortar, you may notice pieces of brick lying on the ground or even entire sections of missing brick. This weakened structure may eventually collapse.
During cold winters, the freeze-thaw cycle can take a huge toll on your chimney. With the deterioration of the bricks’ hard shell, it soaks up water like a sponge. The water gets inside these tiny holes and crevices in the porous surface and begins to freeze as the temperature gets colder. Since water expands when frozen, bigger cracks develop in the bricks. Then, when the ice thaws as the temperature rises, additional moisture channels are created that flow inside the flue. As you can tell, the freeze-thaw cycle can quickly accelerate the deterioration of the masonry. And these spalling bricks can cause expensive damage to the masonry.
How to Minimize Weather-Related Problems
The best way to minimize the disastrous and costly effects of a damaged chimney is to have annual inspections and cleanings. Our certified chimney sweeps visually inspect the entire chimney structure. In most cases, we can spot potential water problems before they can become more costly repairs or even worse – a safety hazard.
Also, we recommend homeowners install a chimney cap to help prevent moisture and other elements from damaging the flue. Additionally, waterproofing your chimney recoats the brickwork to provide protection from moisture and other temperature changes. The waterproof treatment will need to be re-applied every few years to maintain its strength.
Hudson Valley Chimney is a member of the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the National Fire Protection Association and the New York State Chimney Sweep Guild. Give us a call to schedule a chimney inspection. We also provide written estimates for all chimney repairs.