Unfortunately for many homeowners, the chimney isn’t at all maintenance-free. When people talk about the fireplace and chimney, and they’re sharing pictures on social media, they usually paint the picture of a nice, warm, crackling fire and maybe a glass of wine to relax with someone special on a cool evening. Fireplaces have become a status symbol and a symbol of romantic tendencies throughout the years.
They do add a general warmth to a room, as much as any new paint color or new decor can. But they aren’t the maintenance free, build it and leave it structure homeowners often wish they were. Chimneys can be very expensive to repair if homeowners aren’t diligent in the upkeep and preventative maintenance practices required to keep the chimney healthy.
The chimney takes a lot of damage from weather. We run the gambit of weather extremes here in the Philadelphia area. We see heavy snow and ice during the winter, heavy rainfall during spring, evening thunderstorms during summer, and windy weather during fall. Our chimneys are continually taking a beating from one direction or another, and water is the primary enemy.
Water damage to the chimney can occur during any season. Snow and ice melt into water as the chimney heats and melts it. The freeze-thaw cycle is extremely damaging because water expands when it freezes and contracts when it goes back into liquid form. This process creates cracks in masonry chimneys as the water expands and contracts from within brick and mortar.
Waterproofing sealant is your chimney’s best friend. It can add years of life to your chimney. There are a few types of waterproofing sealant to choose from and they all provide excellent protection for today’s chimneys. The primary job of a sealant is to block water from entering the chimney. A breathable waterproofing sealant will also allow trapped water to escape as vapor, so trapped moisture can escape, but more will not enter.
The primary steps to protecting your chimney from water are:
- Install a chimney cap. The chimney cap is the metal device that literally caps the top of the chimney. It does not seal against the flue, it simply keeps water from running down into the chimney and keeps small animals and birds out of the chimney.
- Ensure that the chimney crown is not damaged. The chimney crown is designed so that water drains down and away from the flue. If it is not properly performing this function, it may need to be replaced or repaired.
- Apply a waterproof sealant when necessary. Sealant should be applied at least every three to five years. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you’re unsure, or call us and we’ll take care of it for you.
- Schedule yearly maintenance with a chimney sweep. Many people choose to perform their own chimney maintenance, and that’s perfectly okay. But request a second set of eyes from time to time. Call for an inspection so that we can look for things you may miss over time.
These steps will keep your chimney working at peak capacity and protected from the elements. Call Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 to schedule chimney maintenance or an inspection. We’re located in Drexel Hill, PA and service the surrounding counties and townships.