Knowing your fireplace and chimney system is half the battle when it comes to having a long-lasting one. Knowing and managing the possible damage to the system is the other half. Even a well-built chimney can become damaged over time if necessary measures aren’t taken.

Water and Your Chimney

Masonry is made up of a variety of materials that make it perfect for venting gases and smoke. The materials that make it perfect for the job, also make it susceptible to water damage. When water is allowed into your chimney system, it causes serious damage that brings down its safety and efficiency, including:
-Chimney collapse, settlement, and leaning
-Cracked, decayed, and dirty flue liner
-Stained masonry, walls, ceilings, and floors
-Rotting wood and wall coverings
-Rusted parts, assemblies, accessories, and doors
-Deteriorated firebox assemblies, central heating system, and more

Water damage is serious. It can not only ruin your chimney, but can also damage your home, lower efficiency, and raise fire risk. The biggest thing to remember about water damage, though, is that it’s 100 percent preventable.

Schedule Routine Maintenance to Avoid Damage

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend routine sweeps and annual inspections for the safest and most efficient chimney system. This is because routine maintenance is the time when a professional gets a look at the system. Minor issues are noticed and repaired before major damage is done. The freeze/thaw cycle is the most dreadful example of a small problem turning into a major one and is 100 percent preventable.

When there is a crack or void in the chimney system, in the masonry itself, or in the crown or flashing, water is allowed into this space. No matter how small the space is, it will collect water, and that water will freeze there when the temperature drops. As the water freezes, it expands, breaking apart the masonry. When a fire is lit, or the temperature rises during the course of the day, the chimney warms, melting the water, and allowing it to flow further into the damaged masonry, where it freezes as temperatures drop. This process, called the freeze/thaw cycle, can repeat throughout the winter season if it isn’t corrected, resulting in serious water damage, and structural damage by the end of the burn season. The freeze/thaw cycle causes spalling masonry, but also all of the other water damage listed above.

As spring arrives, it’s important to schedule an inspection with a professional so that you can avoid damage as spring rain penetrates your already damaged masonry. Only a professional can determine damage before it’s visible to the homeowners. Most homeowners are unaware of a problem until there are visible signs of damage, but by this time there is serious damage behind-the-scenes.

Not only can you have your masonry damage repaired now to avoid further damage. You can also have your masonry waterproofed in order to avoid future water damage.

Contact The Mad Hatter and find out how we can prevent the freeze/thaw cycle from affecting your chimney. Call (317) 596-0200.