Keep Snow Out of Your Chimney This Winter
The winter months bring a time of reflection and gorgeous blankets of snow. It’s the ideal time to cozy up to your fireplace and put your chimney system to good use. However, it’s important to use caution before the snow comes in. Snows and heavy moisture can cause damage to your chimney system, potentially putting your family at risk.
Snow can damage chimneys
As snow, sleet, and ice piles around your chimney on your roof, water and ice can penetrate the brick and mortar of your system. Moisture inside bricks expands, causing unwanted movement. Once it dries, the brick contracts which can cause collapse. These fluctuations of moisture within your chimney system can go completely unnoticed, especially if you haven’t been using your system through the warmer months. By keeping up with regular maintenance and inspections, you can become aware of these issues before they cause your chimney to collapse. We here at Clean Sweep have the knowledge and the materials to keep your chimney safe and functioning throughout the harsh winter weather.
What can you do?
First, make sure to prime your flue before starting your fireplace when it’s snowing. Neglecting this step will cause the hot air and smoke to be unable to escape from your flue, resulting in a smoky house. However, the most effective thing you can do is to keep up with chimney inspections and sweepings. Scheduling regular chimney inspections can provide the knowledge you need to maintain your chimney system and avoid costly repairs. We use a variety of materials and systems to keep moisture out of chimneys, and will delve into a few of our options, how they function, and their importance to keeping your home safe and warm throughout the icy winter days. Below, you will find our list of preventative measures you can take to stave off winter moisture damage.
Starting at the top of your chimney, we have the Cap. It is the first line of defense for your chimney system, sitting at its highest point. Caps are usually made of steel or copper mesh and can come in a variety of styles to match the aesthetic of your home. Not only attractive, caps are crucial to maintaining the integrity of your chimney. They keep what you don’t want in your chimney out, and keep what you do want in your chimney in. Meaning, they will prevent moisture, animals, and debris from getting in your chimney while allowing smoke to come out. They will also keep sparks and embers inside the chimney, preventing fires on your roof.
Sitting just below the cap and providing protection, we have the chimney Crown. Chimney crowns in the past were constructed with mortar, which is prone to cracking from moisture. New constructions use concrete and sealant, a highly moisture resistant mix, which is proving to be a cost effective measure as it stands the test of time and prevents moisture from seeping between the flu and chimney exterior. Chimney crowns are constructed on a small slope, so water does not gather on them, instead it slides harmlessly onto the roof.
Chimney Roof Flashing
Flashing is the waterproof seal between the roof and the chimney. It is installed in three pieces, starting under your roofing shingles and meeting with the base of your chimney system. The three parts to Chimney Flashing are:
- Step flashing – L shaped piece of metal that lies under the roofing shingles and along the brick of masonry chimney
- Counter or Cap flashing – also L shaped metal piece. Designed to cover the step flashing and embedded into a groove cut in the chimney brickwork.
- Base flashing – used at the base of the chimney and the roofing surface
These elements are caulked together using high quality caulk to create a waterproof seal between the roof and the chimney. A regular inspection will look for the integrity of your chimney flashing. Faulty flashing can lead to exterior and interior damages, compromising not only the chimney but potentially your roof, ceilings, and walls.
Chimney Masonry Mortar
Mortar is the seal between your bricks and the chimney system. Without maintenance, mortar only has a lifespan of about 25 years at the very most. Once it begins to crack and break off, moisture can seep in between the bricks, contracting and expanding, leading to eventual collapse. With regular maintenance, however, mortar can be an excellent defense for your chimney. Properly maintained and repointed mortar creates a watertight seal for your chimney system, keeping your home and family safe.
A chimney cricket is a ridge structure, usually made from metal or wood, that channels water away from the chimney. Chimneys that are flush against roofs are in danger of water pooling around them, eventually causing damage to the mortar. During heavy snows, snow can pile around the base of the chimney. A chimney cricket prevents the onslaught of moisture by creating a small ridge for the snow to sluff off of.
Protecting Your Chimney and All of Its Components From Harmful Winter Weather
While there’s a lot to consider to keep your chimney in safe, working condition during the winter snows, you can rest assured that Clean Sweep has the safety of your family and home as our top priority. With help from your local experts, you can cozy up to a warm, clean burning fire and let the snow come down without a worry. Recurring inspections, maintenance, and cleanings are imperative to enjoying the winter weather, and Clean Sweep is here to help.