Why Waterproof My Chimney?
Before asking, “How do I waterproof my chimney?” you may be among the many homeowners who would first ask, “Why should I waterproof my chimney?” It is completely normal for families to get a great amount of pleasure from their fireplaces while neglecting proper maintenance of the chimney. Even though a chimney is made with solid materials such as brick or stone, it is still vulnerable to moisture. Harsh weather conditions can increase the rate at which a chimney naturally begins to deteriorate.
Moisture: A Chimney’s Number One Enemy
It may seem that creosote in the lining or the potential for a chimney fire are the biggest hazards for a chimney, but moisture is actually the number one enemy. The damage caused by moisture, if neglected, can ultimately result in a chimney fire or even a house fire. In addition, the damage caused by moisture in the chimney system can be extremely costly to repair. The following are some steps you can take to waterproof your chimney.
Installing a chimney cap at the top of your chimney is the most basic step toward preventing moisture from getting into your chimney. The chimney cap or chimney topper prevents rainwater from falling directly into your home via your chimney. The rain can cause components of your chimney, such as the damper, to rust. As an added bonus, if you get a cap with mesh, the appliance can prevent creatures from getting into your chimney and potentially causing problems, hassles, inconvenience, and expense.
The mortar used to seal chimney masonry is only about a quarter as durable as the masonry itself, and that’s if the masonry only lasts a century. Once mortar begins to flake off, crumble, and decay, moisture can get into the masonry. A lot of damage can be caused by deteriorating mortar. For example, the moisture in the masonry expands and contracts repeatedly during the freeze and thaw cycles of winter. The face of the masonry begins to pop and flake off. If continually neglected, the chimney can start leaning and eventually will collapse. A repair technique called “tuckpointing” removes damaged moisture and replaces it with good mortar, all while leaving the masonry in place, creating a stronger structure, and giving the chimney a fresh, new look.
Flashing is the metal part of the chimney which acts as a watertight seal between the roof and chimney. The flashing doesn’t always do what it’s supposed to because installation is difficult to get right. Even when flashing is properly installed, be aware that the metal can fairly quickly begin to rust. The smallest leak in the flashing can cause huge problems, such as structural damage on your roof, before you even know there’s a problem. We recommend having flashing and other components of the chimney routinely checked by a professional chimney technician. The experts know how to spot moisture problems and the unseen damage that could be occurring.
As mentioned, moisture is a big problem. Other potential strategies for protecting your chimney include applying a water repellant designed for chimneys and repairing a cracked crown. Contact our chimney professionals for help keeping your chimney well-maintained and free of damaging moisture.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110