Prevent Water Damage to Your Chimney Before It’s Too Late
By Doug Hetsch
September 15, 2014
Chimney Maintenance, water damage
Your fireplace serves many important functions in your home. It reliably warms your home during chilly Kentucky winters and creates a peaceful atmosphere on gray nights. Even during the summers, the fireplace acts as the brilliant focal point to the room. You might have even chosen your house partly because it had the fireplace.
All fireplaces require regular maintenance to ensure they function correctly for decades to come. Most people know the recommended practice of sweeping the chimney every year. This practice is vital to keeping your chimney safe and functional, but it is also not enough. One important aspect of chimney care that homeowners forget about ispreventing water damage.
All masonry chimneys are made of materials such brick, stone, mortar or concrete. Steel, cast iron and flue tiles may be materials found inside the chimney. Each of these materials, except for stone, will suffer damage after continual exposure to water.
Brick, mortar and concrete are very porous by nature, so they will readily absorb any water nearby. When winter temperatures fall below freezing, the water trapped in the materials expands and contracts as part of the freeze and thaw cycle. This recurring stress on the materials weakens them over time, meaning the structure can crack or even collapse. Even though the freeze and thaw cycle does not affect stone, still keep an eye out for water damage. The stones are usually held together by mortar, which is susceptible to water damage.
Water can also leak inside the chimney. This water will rust the flue, creating cracks and holes. These openings expose the interior side of the masonry chimney, so the brick and mortar can suffer water damage there as well. Water can also travel down to the damper assembly and rust it out, making adequate ventilation impossible. In addition, the faceplate and doors of the fireplace can rust, the hearth can crack or collapse, and the ceiling and walls around the fireplace may become saturated.
Repairing the damage caused by water is much more expensive than taking measures to prevent the damage in the first place. To prevent water damage, you have several options.
The first place water usually leaks in is through the top of the chimney. A chimney service can install a chimney cap, which is a cheap, effective way to avoid water damage. Additionally, the mason can check the chimney crown for damage. The crown acts as a roof to keep water from leaking in through the chimney top, but because it is made of concrete, it is prone to cracking. Simple fixes include patching and replacement. The flashing is another vulnerable spot for water seepage. This aluminum cover protects the seam where the chimney exits the roof line. The tar sealing the flashing decays over time and allows water it. It simply needs to be redone. The chimney exterior is also susceptible to water damage, so your chimney mason can apply a special sealant. The vapor permeable sealant permits the escape of moisture but keeps outside water from entering the structure.
If you live in the Louisville, Kentucky area, contactAll American Chimney Service, LLCfor a professional consultation.