Now is the season when homeowners are using their fireplace more than ever but may be paying attention to it less than before. When the weather is cold, we spend less time outdoors, and may not look at the exterior portion of the chimney all season long! Winter is the time when the chimney system works the most, endures the most abuse, and can become the most damaged. Since a large portion of the chimney system is hidden from sight, much of this damage may go unnoticed for weeks or months. Most homeowners won’t notice a problem until there is substantial unseen damage. Make sure you know how to spot damaged masonry before it damages more than your chimney.
The problems with masonry damage are worsened by winter weather. First, the masonry can become worn and cracked over time (unless necessary preventative measures are taken, like waterproofing). Then the cracks take on water as rain or snow falls. As the temperature drops, this water freezes, expands, and breaks apart more of the masonry. When a fire is burned in the fireplace and the chimney warms, the water melts and moves further into the damaged masonry. This freeze/thaw cycle repeats throughout the winter season and can result in devastating masonry damage to be addressed in the spring.
Signs of Damage
You may spend less time outside during winter, but you will be burning a fire more often, so it’s a good time to pay attention to your fire. You may not see exterior masonry damage, but you will notice changes in your chimney’s performance.
- –A smoky fire means your chimney is less efficient. If it doesn’t improve after troubleshooting [http://www.csia.org/troubleshooting.html], there is likely a bigger issue that needs to be addressed.
- –Difficulty lighting a fire or keeping a fire lit can indicate a hidden issue with your chimney and masonry.
- –Visually seeing drips & water stains or hearing dripping in the chimney or fireplace can mean a masonry issue. Call a professional to check flashing, chimney cap, and masonry.
- –Cracking, flaking, and falling mortar is called spalling. It’s quite common when a chimney is not maintained properly and can lead to serious damage. Call a professional to repair spalling masonry through a process of tuckpointing or re-pointing.
- –White stains on the exterior of the chimney indicates water passing through the masonry, leaving minerals behind. This can lead to serious water damage inside the chimney system.
The best way to spot damage is to hire a certified chimney sweep who can catch a problem before it becomes an expensive and dangerous issue. A Certified Chimney Sweep from Brickliners is experienced in preventing masonry damage, and spotting it before it wreaks havoc on your entire chimney system. If you haven’t scheduled a chimney sweep or inspection in the last 12 months, there is time to get it done now, before winter has a chance to damage your masonry.
Call Brickliners today at 802-872-0123 or request an appointment online.