Has the Cold of Winter Damaged Your Chimney?
You may enjoy cozy fireside warmth all winter, but have you ever thought about how cold outdoor conditions affect your chimney? Even as heated combustion gases from blazing fires are exiting the home through the chimney, the exterior of the chimney masonry could be damaged by icy temperatures. Chimneys are exposed to the harshest outdoor elements, and porous masonry materials are vulnerable to moisture.
If water has infiltrated the masonry, the freezing and thawing cycles of winter can cause its destruction. Timely repairs are essential, to avoid the expense of fixing a leaning chimney or rebuilding one that has collapsed. Learn more below about how winter cold can damage your chimney.
How Does Moisture Affect My Chimney?
As sturdy as it may appear to be, towering above the roofline of your home, your chimney is highly vulnerable to moisture. The various components of the chimney exterior are built for the purpose of keeping moisture out. For instance, the chimney crown at the top exists to prevent moisture from getting between the chimney flue and the exterior chimney masonry. The crown extends over the chimney stack in a way intended to prevent water from sliding down andtraveling across the masonry as it flows toward the roof.
The metal flashing on a chimney is in place to create a waterproof barrier between the roof and the chimney, but it is difficult to install the flashing correctly. When the top portion of the flashing doesn’t form a watertight seal, a resulting leak could cause water to infiltrate the masonry behind it plus cause roof damage.
These are just two of the numerous ways in which water could get into your masonry. The real damage, however, occurs as a result of freezing winter weather.
How Might Freezing and Thawing Damage My Chimney?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a leading authority in fire safety, and the organization provides information about the freezing and thawing process that can occur in masonry. When bricks have absorbed water, the moisture inside freezes when temperatures fall to 32º F or below, causing the masonry to expand. Once the water thaws out, the materials contract. The movement eventually results in spalling, which means that the brick face pops off or flakes off. Chimneys are tremendously heavy. The compression of weight on crumbling masonry causes the structure to become unstable, eventually leaning and possibly even collapsing, which is potentially very dangerous.
Chimney professionals can add waterproofing material to intact chimneys for additional protection against moisture intrusion. If there is already moisture in your chimney, the damaged masonry must be replaced before a layer of waterproofing is added.
Contact Trusted Chimney Experts
Not sure whether Wisconsin winters have damaged your chimney? Schedule a chimney inspection, chimney cleaning, or chimney repair by contacting the professionals at Burlington Fireplace & Heating. Every chimney technician is trained and certified to perform chimney services and to identify evidence of moisture damage. Call 262-763-3522 today and let the chimney experts at Burlington Fireplace & Heating give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing the true condition of your chimney and, as needed, getting chimney repairs.