Chimney Damage Caused by Freeze-Thaw Cycles
Whether it’s off to work, getting the kids ready for school, or going shopping, a winter coat, umbrella, and maybe even a pair of boots are standard gear for protection from the freezing rain and snow that winter often brings from South Carolina Midlands to the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). However, your chimney remains exposed to the harsh winter weather and the freeze-thaw cycles that can cause considerable chimney damage. If you notice any of the following five types of chimney damage, call the Certified Chimney Professionals® at Advanced Chimney Sweep for an immediate chimney inspection:
The freeze-thaw cycle, which often occurs throughout the winter, can cause significant masonry damage to sections of the chimney that receive most of the precipitation, especially for homes in Columbia and the South Carolina Midlands region. Masonry is porous, so it absorbs moisture like a sponge. When the absorbed water freezes when the air temperature dips below zero, the expanding ice crystals cause tiny cracks in the bricks. As the temperature rises during the day and the ice crystals melt, additional moisture fills the gaps the next time it rains or snows. These freeze-thaw cycles can frequently occur during the winter, eventually causing bricks to chip, crumble, or spall. You may even notice pieces of brickwork on the ground near the chimney.
Decaying mortar is another common type of chimney damage during the freeze-thaw cycle. Mortar is the bonding material that cements the bricks in place. However, like bricks, it too is porous. Although snow is rare in Savannah, frequent rain that is common during the winter and throughout the year causes the mortar to decay. So, decaying mortar is also a problem for folks in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). The decaying mortar leaves gaps in the mortar joints. It also causes bricks to loosen and separate from the chimney, which can cause severe structural problems that can ultimately lead to a partial or complete chimney collapse.
Chimney Crown Cracks
The freeze-thaw cycle is also a problem for the chimney crown. The concrete surface tops the entire masonry structure to help prevent moisture intrusion, which can damage the interior masonry, including the flue liner, smoke shelf, and damper, for example. In addition, rain, snow, and ice can cause cracks in the chimney crown’s surface. Even a tiny crack in its surface can cause significant water damage inside the chimney. Homeowners can install a stainless-steel outside mount chimney cap to help protect the crown from the damaging effects of rain and snow.
Rain and snow can also cause the damper, flashing, firebox, and other chimney components to rust or corrode. As a result, it increases the likelihood of chimney leaks and reduces heating efficiency, resulting in higher heating bills. It also increases fire risk and exposure to toxic carbon monoxide fumes and other harmful pollutants, such as creosote, ash, mold, and mildew.
Flue Liner Damage
The mixture of moisture intrusion, condensation, creosote, and other corrosive gas residues can cause damage to the flue liner. Also, as creosote lingers in the chimney, it hardens into a highly flammable material. The intense heat of a fire in the fireplace or hot ember can spark a chimney fire. Even a small chimney fire can cause flue tiles to crack, split, and burst. It can also damage metal and concrete liners. Flue liner damage increases the risk of a chimney fire spreading throughout your home. Unfortunately, homeowners are often unaware they had a fire in the chimney. That’s why annual chimney inspections and professional cleaning are so necessary.
Winter Chimney Repairs
If you notice signs of chimney problems, we can help! Our certified technicians provide professional winter chimney repairs at affordable prices for homeowners in Columbia, SC, Savannah, GA, and communities throughout the CSRA and South Carolina Midlands region. Call (706) 833-4630 or (803) 508-3990 to schedule an appointment or contact a technician online today!