Chimneys are vulnerable to moisture all year round. But winter weather with its snow, freezing rain, ice, and damaging winds can have a devastating impact. And if the damage is severe, you may not be able to use your fireplace or heating stove to stay warm until it has been repaired. So, as the winter weather approaches, it is prudent to prepare your chimney for whatever winter weather may bring.
Before Protecting, Inspect
Without question, the first step in preparing your chimney for winter is to schedule a chimney inspection. During the inspection, the chimney sweep will examine the entire structure and internal components. A visual inspection is necessary to check for spalling or cracked bricks, gaps in the mortar joints, and other damages that could allow moisture to weaken the chimney and increase the risk of fire and exposure to carbon monoxide fumes.
The freeze-thaw cycle that creates potholes on our roadways also affects your chimney in the same way. Water collects in the small cracks in and between the bricks and solidifies as the temperature drops below freezing. The ice crystals expand inside the small cracks and can cause the masonry to crumble. As the temperature rises, water penetrates the interior components, where it can further compromise the chimney and even damage your roof. A chimney inspection can help uncover and prevent:
Waterproof your chimney
Chimney masonry is a porous material making it vulnerable to moisture. As the bricks absorb more water, it continues to erode and break down. Waterproofing the chimney’s exterior can prevent the absorption of moisture and prolong its lifespan. But any masonry damage must be repaired before applying a waterproof sealant to the brickwork. We recommend a water-based, permeable sealant that allows the chimney to breathe.
Divert water from the chimney
Another viable alternative to protect your chimney from harsh winter weather is diverting moisture from your chimney using a cricket. Melting snow and ice or rainwater typically create runoffs that can soak portions of the chimney. Using a cricket to redirect the flow is an effective method to protect the structural integrity of the chimney.
Install a chimney cap
If your chimney cap is damaged or missing, then your flue is exposed to the winter weather, including rain and snow. It’s also susceptible to sudden downdrafts that can blow smoke and soot all over your living space. Installing a chimney cap is an inexpensive yet very effective way of protecting your chimney from external moisture and windy conditions. Chimney caps have a sloped design that pushes moisture away from the flue. They are available in a variety of aesthetically pleasing designs and also have a wire mesh to keep small birds and pests from nesting inside the warm flue and obstruct the venting of smoke and fumes. A spark arrestor feature keeps hot embers away from the roof.