Let’s face it: our winters here in the Northeast have no shortage of freezing and thawing cycles, snow-covered rooftops, and resulting damage to chimneys. In spite of Mother Nature’s annual winter barrage, many people continue to overlook the need for chimney system maintenance. When the first snow of winter begins to fall, it’s picturesque. Some of us gather, as families, in our pajamas by the fire. This feeling is rather short-lived, however. Sooner or later, enough is enough! We can only tolerate the dreaded polar vortex for so long before beginning to focus more on the negatives the snow brings rather than the beauty of watching it fall.
Moisture Ruins Chimneys
If the thought of more snow makes you shake and shiver, imagine how your chimney feels! Believe it or not, the weather during the wintertime can be especially damaging to your home’s chimney due to the extensive amount of moisture coupled with the temperature fluctuations that enable the freeze-thaw cycle to wreak havoc. Moisture damage may not be immediately noticeable, instead opting to gradually reveal itself to unsuspecting homeowners in the form of damage to the brickwork, chimney crown, flashing, and/or chimney liner.
Most masonry materials are porous and will absorb large amounts of water. Common brick is like a sponge, absorbing water and wicking moisture to your chimney’s interior. Defective mortar joints or the use of improper mortar or brick can greatly increase the tendency to absorb and convey water to the interior of the masonry chimney structure. In addition, when water mixes with the creosote that is often present in a wood-burning fireplace, it will generate an extremely unpleasant odor that can fill your entire home. All of these things combined greatly compromise the overall structure of your chimney as a whole.
Snow Can Interfere With A Chimney’s Venting Capabilities
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) likes to remind homeowners during this time of year that chimneys and vents for solid fuel and gas appliances must be cleared of snow and ice to enable proper venting and to prevent any carbon monoxide (CO) accumulation inside your home, as both present real danger to your home and its inhabitants. Around 10,000 cases of CO-related issues are diagnosed each year, with even more going unnoticed or undiagnosed. Because the symptoms of prolonged, low-level carbon monoxide poisoning mimics the symptoms of common winter ailments (headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and even seasonal depression), many cases are not detected until permanent, subtle damage to the brain, heart and other organs and tissues has occurred. The difficulty of diagnosis also means that the numbers of people affected may be even higher.
Snow damage to masonry chimneys is usually a slow, subtle process. The problems it can cause are often not evident until they’ve become quite serious. Because of the seriousness of these issues, the last thing you want to do is hire someone who might not have the experience required for the job at hand, as this can put your family or your home at risk. Contact us to learn why Northeastern Masonry & Chimney is your best choice. We’d love to hear from you!