If you think that the heat generated in the fireplace means that water will not be a problem you are wrong. One of the first things any qualified chimney sweep will recommend is waterproofing the structure. This is not an unnecessary expense; it is actually essential to the long life of the chimney. If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, your chimney will always be susceptible to moisture.
Creosote is typically seen as the biggest chimney problem, but it is not the only thing you should be concerned about. The damage caused by excess moisture affect the chimney, it can affect the house as well. It can even lead to a chimney fire if it is not addressed quickly.
Cover Your Chimney
Adding a cap to your chimney is a cheap and quick way to beat moisture. No chimney should be without a cap, as rainwater can affect different sections of the structure. Metal components can rust, and wet creosote can produce a foul odor inside the home. If you’re going to spend money on a chimney cap, it makes sense to get one that will keep out birds and small animals, which are common reasons for chimney blockages.
Chimney products come in varying degrees of quality so don’t make the mistake of buying the first one you come across. Breathability is one of the most important factors when choosing chimney waterproofing products. One thing you should know is that there is a difference between sealing and waterproofing. Waterproofing compounds are typically breathable, keeping moisture out of the chimney while allowing it to evaporate. Sealants will keep the moisture trapped inside the mortar if it manages to get in. During winter this can weaken the mortar from the inside.
Joint and Flashing Repair
The mortar joints and the flashing are two of the chimney’s most vulnerable spots for moisture intrusion. The flashing is the metal strip that covers the area where the chimney and the roof meet. When installed properly it does a good job of keeping water out. However, as time passes it can become less effective. You can buy a product for sealing the mortar joints, but sometimes more extensive repairs are necessary depending on the level of deterioration. Fortunately, this can be quickly assessed and handled by a professional chimney sweep.
Clearly winter is not the only time you should be concerned about the health of your chimney. A lot can happen during thunderstorms as well. The best course of action is to be prepared by keeping your chimney in top notch condition before the rainy season starts.
We had a very mild winter this year, so we’re in for an early spring. That means more rain is on the way and then summertime thunderstorms will present their own unique set of problems. Give us a call at Lou Curley’s Chimney service at 610-626-2439 if you’d like to schedule post-winter inspection and cleaning or if you’d like to discuss waterproofing your chimney in more detail.