All over the country and especially here in the Memphis area, homeowners are looking forward to the end of an unexpectedly cold – and icy – winter. What many fail to realize, however, is that the winter weather of the past few months may have damaged their chimney.

Winter Weather Masonry Damage - Memphis TN

The combination of moisture with freezing temperatures can spell disaster for masonry structures. In addition to quickly worsening existing damage, new damage can also appear seemingly overnight. To assess the health of your chimney after this frigid winter, consider having a chimney inspection performed.

How does water affect masonry?

The bricks and mortar of your chimney are a naturally porous substance; this allows dangerous gasses to pass through them, but it also allows water in. In small amounts, this water typically does not damage the brick. However, the brick can become quickly damaged due to the freeze thaw process.

Small amounts of water from rain, sleet, or snow can be absorbed by the brick. However, if this water freezes it will expand, cracking the brick and creating progressively larger and larger holes. As the water thaws, the now-bigger cracks are left behind, vulnerable to larger amounts of water. This freeze thaw process can quickly turn a small crack in the masonry into bricks that are falling apart. Left unrepaired, damage to the masonry may even cause damage to the chimney liner itself.

In addition to being affected by the freeze thaw process, chimneys can also be damaged during winter months by falling branches or other debris as well as animals such as squirrels or raccoons trying to find their way into your chimney for a warm place to ride out a storm.

Preventing water damage

In the case of water damage and your masonry chimney, the best offense is a good defense. By having your chimney regularly maintained, you can rest assured that you do not have any developing masonry damage. Likewise, an annual inspection will alert you to any changes in the condition of your chimney, allowing repairs to be made as soon as possible to prevent further decay.

A masonry chimney sealer is another excellent way to protect your chimney against the damaging effects of moisture. Chimney sealants are specially designed solutions that allow the bricks to still pass harmful gasses while keeping moisture out. Homeowners should avoid using generic sealants or paint to protect their chimneys, as they can not only trap gasses but can also trap moisture in the brick.

Chimney sealants can be applied to any chimney, even if you do not have issues with chimney leaks or masonry damage. Waterproofing your chimney before it can become damaged is one way to protect your entire fireplace system and is an excellent investment in the overall health and safety of your chimney.

If you think your chimney may have been damaged by this winter’s heavy ice and frigid temperatures or you have an existing or ongoing problem with water entry, contact Coopertown Services today. Our expert staff can not only repair the damage water has caused to your masonry, but can work with you to find ways to keep it from happening again.