Living in a home with a fireplace is a big perk especially here on the east coast. On dark winter evenings, it’s a pleasure to relax next to a crackling fire in the hearth. Unfortunately, your fireplace’s chimney could become a costly expense if it isn’t maintained. Investing a little now in preventative chimney maintenance can save you thousands of dollars in future repairs.
Your home’s chimney is battered by high winds, heavy rainfall, and driving snow. Even though it’s built to last for decades, it is still vulnerable to damage, especially from water intrusion. A leaking chimney is one of the most common problems that chimney sweeps are requested to fix. Repairing water damage to your chimney and surrounding walls, ceilings, and support beams can be extremely expensive.
Critter problems in the chimney are almost as common as water problems. Many animals love to make their homes in them increasing the likelihood of a chimney fire. They can also attract other pests like insects to your home or bring in diseases.
There are 4 inexpensive preventative maintenance steps that you can take to avoid costly chimney repairs.
#1 – Waterproof the Masonry & Seal the Chimney Crown
Water is the leading cause of chimney damage. It can lead to structural damage to the chimney and ruined drywall, ceilings, floorings or structural beams in your home. One of the ways that water gets in is by seeping into the masonry or through cracks in the chimney crown.
Bricks, mortar, and concrete that haven’t been treated with a waterproofing sealant absorb water. When the water in the masonry freezes and thaws, during chilly months, it expands and contracts. This can cause cracks and breaks. Eventually, it can weaken the structure of the chimney. You can prevent this by treating the masonry with a waterproofing sealant and the chimney crown with a waterproofing sealant that also fills in any small cracks.
#2 – Treat the Chimney Flashing
Flashing is the metal seal that bridges the gap between the chimney and the roof. It prevents precipitation from slipping in between the two structures. Most chimney leaks are caused by deteriorated flashing. Treating the flashing with waterproofing sealant prevents deterioration and extends its life.
#3 – Have a Chimney Cap Installed
A chimney cap has two important jobs: prevent animals and precipitation from getting into the chimney. It is a metal cap that covers the opening at the top of the chimney so that rain, sleet, and snow can’t fall straight down the chimney. It typically has wire mesh around the side to prevent critters from crawling or flying into the mouth of the chimney.
#4 – Schedule an Annual Inspection & Cleaning
Creosote is a dangerously flammable chemical compound that builds up in chimneys. It’s the result of condensation in the chimney that mixes with soot and other combustion byproducts. It is the leading cause of chimney fires. Removing it yourself, without experience and specialized equipment, is difficult. CSIA-certified chimney sweeps have the training, experience, and equipment to clean it out and prevent the risk of a house fire.
Fire safety and chimney experts agree that an annual chimney cleaning is the most important step you can take to prevent a house fire sparked by your fireplace. During the cleaning, a professional chimney sweep will also perform an annual inspection. Their training and experience equip them to notice potential chimney problems that you could easily overlook. Diagnosing and fixing small problems found early during an annual inspection is the best way to prevent them from becoming big, expensive issues.
Are you ready to protect your chimney? Give us a call to learn more about the preventative maintenance services that we can provide! Our CSIA- and CCP-certified chimney technicians are experts in chimney maintenance, cleaning, and inspections.
High’s Chimney / (301) 519-3500