What Happens to Your Chimney in the Winter and Why it Matters
Winters in the eastern U.S. are no laughing matter. It can be challenging for us to just get through them. It also can be challenging for your chimney, because our severe winters are very hard on them and can cause all kinds of problems.
This is why it’s always a good idea to schedule a complete chimney inspection after winter has let up. Your inspector can spot any signs of damage or performance trouble and get issues solved before you start using your fireplace and chimney again next winter.
Four Things That Can Happen
1. Bricks and mortar can suffer
Super-cold weather and lots of moisture in the air can affect the bricks and mortar that make up your chimney. Small surface cracks will let in water, which will freeze and expand, causing more damage within the masonry.
As this freeze/thaw cycle continues, a chimney can become severely compromised and unsafe to use or live around. When not caught early, masonry damage can lead to a chimney that’s falling apart or leaning to one side. In the worst case, the chimney can collapse partially or entirely.
2. Chimney leaks
Chimney leaks can be caused by a variety of things, damaged masonry being one of the most common. A leak also can start in a cracked chimney crown, a damaged chimney cap and warped or rusted chimney flashing, which skirts the base of the chimney where it meets the roof.
Leaky chimneys can eventually destroy a chimney’s masonry. They also can cause damage to chimney liners, interior masonry, home building materials adjacent to the chimney and the important fireplace damper.
3. Animals can take up residence in your chimney
If you don’t have a secure chimney cap covering the top of your chimney, your flue may become a winter home to a variety of critters such as birds, squirrels, raccoons, rodents and snakes. It’s never good to have wildlife in your chimney.
Some animals can be dangerous should they figure out a way to get out of the flue and into your house. Certain animals may carry disease, which you certainly want no part of.
4. Drafting obstructions
Some of the above-mentioned animals build nests inside chimneys. Nesting material can easily narrow the flue passage and cause smoke and deadly carbon monoxide to back up into your home. (Note that carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless but can be fatal to people and pets when inhaled.)
Occasionally, animals die inside the chimney, unable to escape, which only adds to the drafting problem. Excess creosote buildup from heavy winter fireplace use also can narrow a flue and cause smoke backups – and chimney fires.
Address Winter Chimney Issues The Right Way
The right way to deal with these and other common winter chimney issues is to bring in a licensed chimney technician to check out your system from top to bottom. Experienced technicians perform inspections, repairs and the replacement of damaged chimney components.
In New Jersey and Connecticut, homeowners trust National Chimney Service to keep their chimneys working correctly and safely all year long. We provide chimney cleaning, inspections and repair work throughout Morris County, NJ, and Fairfield County, CT. Call us today at 800-631-6177.