Protecting Your Chimney from Water Damage
Your chimney is a durable structure built to withstand the destructive nature of wind, fire, and ice. But weather can take its toll even on the toughest chimneys. The constant exposure to harsh weather conditions, like wind, rain, and snow, can accelerate its deterioration. And water is its greatest threat. It takes vigilance to prevent excessive damage and costly repairs.
Install a chimney cap
Chimney caps are an inexpensive way to help protect your chimney from water damage. But its position on top of the stack makes it more prone to wind and other weather-related damage. New chimney caps have a wire mesh screen that not only helps prevent water intrusion but will also keep small animals, rodents, and debris out of the flue. It also helps in maintaining a proper draft, and a spark arrestor feature helps prevent hot embers from flying onto the roof.
A damaged chimney cap will leave your flue unprotected and should be replaced as soon as possible. They are available in many different aesthetic-pleasing styles and materials, including galvanized steel, copper, stainless steel, and more.
Check your chimney flashing
The chimney flashing seals the gap between the chimney and your roof, preventing rain from running down the interior walls of the chimney. If the flashing is not correctly installed, it can become loose, allowing water intrusion. The flashing should be inspected regularly for signs of wear like warping, rusting, and other damage. Noticing water stains on the ceiling and walls near the fireplace is indicative of a flashing problem. The problem should be corrected as soon as possible to avoid damaging the interior masonry.
Repair Damaged Bricks
The bricks used to construct the exterior of the chimney have a hard-outer shell for moisture protection. But years of pounding rain, sleet, and hail will eventually cause tiny cracks in its surface. And since bricks are porous, they absorb water just like a sponge. Moisture also causes the mortar to erode, creating gaps in the joints. The water will continue to damage the chimney until repaired. You may even notice crumbled brick pieces lying on the ground. When this occurs, there is also an increased risk of fire and exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Waterproofing will not only reduce the need for frequent chimney repairs but also extend the lifespan of the chimney. But waterproofing is only effective when any brick or masonry damage has been repaired. For best results, use a water-based permeable sealant so that it will allow the masonry to breathe. The sealant will need to be re-applied every 5 to 7 years to maintain its water-resistant strength.
One of the best ways to protect your chimney from water damage is with an annual inspection. It’s during these inspections that homeowners can often uncover problems when they are minor so they can be resolved before turning into major repairs.