Total Chimney Care's Blog

How the Freeze-Thaw Cycle Can Ruin Your Chimney

When winter’s deep freeze has taken hold for months, nothing can seem more glorious than a bright, sunny day. It warms the roadways and rooftops as the snow melts away. But when the temperature drops again, that temporary thaw can have a detrimental impact to masonry materials, including your chimney. Here’s what you need to know about the freeze-thaw cycle and how you can protect your chimney from it.

How the Freeze-Thaw Cycle Damages Chimneys

When water freezes, it expands. That’s dangerous because water from melting snow or an unexpectedly warm and rainy day penetrates the masonry chimneys. When the water inside freezes and expands, it causes the masonry material to crack.  That leads to crumbing mortar, large cracks in the chimney structure, or the popping off of the faces of chimney bricks.

The initial impact of the freeze-thaw cycle is aesthetic — a crumbling chimney certainly doesn’t improve the look of your home! Freeze-thaw damage and effects become more serious over time. The cracks allow water to find its way into the chimney interior, where it can cause deterioration or rusting and damage within the fireplace. Water can also make its way into your home, rotting away at your home structure while causing water stains, sagging ceilings and mold growth. For the chimney, the continued breakdown of the masonry materials due to freeze-thaw damage can compromise the entire chimney structure. The chimney can start to lean, become unsound and unsafe, and eventually collapse altogether.

How to Protect Your Chimney From Freeze-Thaw Damage

How you protect your chimney from freeze-thaw damage will depend on whether or not your chimney has already been affected. If your chimney mortar and bricks have already started to crack and crumble from alternatively warm and freezing temperatures, repairs will be to restore the look and function of your chimney. Cracks in chimneys need filled. If mortar is weak and crumbling, tuckpointing might be recommended. Tuckpointing involves the removal and replacement of weakened mortar to reseal chimney joints.

If your chimney hasn’t suffered damage, you can protect it from the freeze-thaw cycle with waterproofing. Waterproofing involves applying a solution to your chimney’s exterior masonry. The solution prevents water from entering the chimney’s masonry while still allowing the chimney to exhaust the smoke and gases from your fireplace. Ultimately, waterproofing can save your chimney from expensive deterioration due to freeze-thaw and other water damage.

If your chimney has suffered visible freeze-thaw damage, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment! Our chimney experts can restore the appearance and the security of your chimney and help protect your chimney from future damage.

By Steve Sobczak on February 9th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

What Causes Chimneys to Leak?

Rusting dampers and fireplace doors, discolored walls and ceilings, cracked and crumbling chimney bricks and water pooling at the bottom of Causes of Chimneys Leaks - New Haven - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Careyour firebox all can signal that your chimney has sprung a leak. When a chimney leak occurs, it can mean costly damage to your home, your chimney and your fireplace. The first step in preventing chimney leaks is understanding where they come from. So what exactly causes chimney leaks?

Failing flashing

Flashing seals the base of your chimney where it meets your roofline. Your flashing should be L-shaped metal trimming that is flush to the base of your chimney. Leaking around the chimney flashing can occur when flashing is improperly installed, cracked or corroded, or when it pulls away from the chimney base. Regularly checking your chimney’s flashing and making sure it is in good repair can save you from a leak that rots your ceiling joists or causes discoloration in your walls and ceilings. If your chimney endures a significant amount of water runoff on your roof, you may want to consider installing a cricket, a metal tent that can divert water away from your chimney’s base.

Misplaced chimney cap

A chimney cap is one of the most crucial components in protecting your chimney from water damage. A proper chimney cap is a tented metal cap affixed to the flue opening with metal caging. The chimney cap prevents water from running down the walls of your chimney, damaging flue tiles and rusting dampers, fireboxes and fireplace doors. If you notice moisture making its way into your fireplace, you should first check to make sure you have a securely installed chimney cap.

Damaged masonry

Most masonry damage is due to water penetration. As porous bricks, chimney crowns and mortar joints absorb water, that water can freeze and expand, causing cracking and crumbling. That minor water damage can lead to major leaks and water penetration that can compromise your chimney’s structure. Address any noticeable water damage before minor water damage before it leads to extensive and costly chimney leaks.

Water penetration

All masonry materials are porous and will absorb water over time. The best way to prevent chimney leaks and water damage in a masonry chimney is with waterproofing. Waterproofing applications block your chimney’s masonry from absorbing moisture. At the same time, the waterproofing material is 100 percent breathable, so any moisture already in the masonry can evaporate, and gases created by your winter fires can still be exhausted.

Especially during the spring, as rainstorms proliferate, it is important to be on the lookout for signs of water damage and leaks around your chimney. If you notice signs of water damage, a misplaced chimney cap, degrading flashing or cracked masonry, contact the chimney experts at Total Chimney Care. We can repair any existing chimney leaks, damaged masonry and help you prevent future water damage.

By Steve Sobczak on June 12th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment