Bricks and mortar are one of the strongest and most durable building materials. Therefore, a brick and mortar chimney should last for decades. However, one element can be extremely damaging to your chimney – water.
Moisture enters the chimney in a variety of ways. There is precipitation such as rain, ice, and snow as well as sources around the house such as sprinklers, hoses, and gutters. While most chimneys can withstand daily exposure to moisture, it does not take long for water to cause damage to your chimney.
How Water Gets In
When correctly constructed and undamaged, chimneys are water-tight and designed to prevent moisture from getting in. Despite this, there are multiple ways that water can find its way into the chimney. Identifying the source of a leak often requires a professional chimney inspection, but here are three of the most common ways water enters:
– Chimney cap: The chimney cap is a fitted metal hood that covers the top of the chimney. It protects the flue from moisture and debris while still allowing smoke, hot air, and gas to safely vent. Damaged or ill-fitting chimney caps – or those that are missing entirely – allow water to flow freely into the flue. This can cause damage to delicate interior fireplace and chimney components. In addition, it leads mold or mildew growth in the flue or firebox.
– Chimney crown: The chimney crown is a stone or cement slab that covers the top of the chimney stack around the flue. Because of their location, the chimney crown often bears the brunt of the chimney’s exposure to the elements. If made from the wrong materials or constructed incorrectly, chimney crowns can crack or break down, allowing water into the chimney.
– Chimney flashing: Flashing is layers of metal and weatherproofing material that seal the joint between the roof and the sides of the chimney. Age, overexposure, severe weather, or roofing repairs and replacement damages flashing. Flashing leaks are often mistaken for roof leaks because they cause water damage to walls and ceilings around the chimney.
Preventing Water Damage
The best way to protect your chimney against water damage is through regular preventative maintenance. Annual chimney sweepings and inspections can help ensure there are no areas of damage or deterioration within the chimney or fireplace. Likewise, an annual inspection can provide a baseline for the condition of your chimney; this allows your chimney sweep to identify even minor water damage as soon as it occurs.
Applying masonry sealer to the bricks and mortar is another valuable tool that can be used to prevent water damage. Paints and traditional sealants create a two way barrier. This means they prevent moisture from getting in but also keep existing moisture and gasses trapped in the brick. They allow bricks to remain naturally porous, preventing water from being absorbed while still allowing trapped water and gas to evaporate.
Despite your chimney’s durability, it is still susceptible to water damage. For more information on water damage and your chimney, contact contact Coopertown Services today!