The freeze-thaw cycle can damage your chimney more than you might think. We’ll show you how to prevent this expensive problem before it’s too late. Winter weather can be especially harsh on your chimney, if you’re unprepared for the freeze-thaw cycle. In this article, you’ll learn about the freeze-thaw cycle, how it can negatively impact your chimney, and what you can do to prevent damage.
During the winter, temperatures jump between below and above freezing without staying on either end for long. This creates a cycle where the ground, objects, and materials—including your chimney—repeatedly freeze and thaw. When a chimney is subject to a freeze-thaw cycle, it absorbs water, which freezes, expands, and deteriorates the masonry.
There are several major ways a freeze-thaw cycle can damage your chimney. These are the most common issues:
- Water leaks through the chimney
- Damage to your chimney’s crown
- Damage to the masonry
- Rust on the firebox or damper
Your chimney most likely is made with mortar, and when mortar freezes it increases in volume. Mortar containing more than 6% water will expand enough to crack. You might be wondering at what temperature does mortar freeze? Generally, mortar freezes at temperatures below 40 degrees F (roughly 4.5 degrees C). Now you can see why the freeze-thaw cycle is a concern.
When winter arrives, it will start to rain and temperatures will drop. Here’s how to prevent winter damage to your chimney.
Waterproofing your chimney is not only possible, it’s essential. Prolong the life of your chimney with a material that allows vapors to escape instead of trapping them. This will save you from serious water damage and thousands of dollars in repairs. One of the most important aspects of waterproofing your chimney involves sealing your crown, a tapered concrete slab on top of your chimney designed to prevent water from getting in. If you haven’t sealed your chimney crown, or if you’re not sure it’s sealed, call a professional to perform an inspection.
Do you already have issues with your masonry? Is it crumbling, falling apart, or breaking away? If so, you’re especially prone to damage from winter’s freeze-thaw cycle. To prevent further damage when winter hits, make sure you take care of any problems with your masonry as soon as possible. Having periodic masonry work done, like tuckpointing, will prolong the life of your chimney and protect it from being easily damaged in the winter.
Before winter hits, it’s critical to get your chimney inspected so you have enough time to address any issues and make repairs. It doesn’t take many freeze-thaw cycles to create a problem, so the earlier you can catch issues, the better.
If you enjoy making fires in the winter, make sure you stay on top of your chimney maintenance so you can enjoy those fires for years to come. Here are a couple things you need to do.
Get your chimney inspected and cleaned every year, and if you have an older home with an older fireplace, get your chimney inspected. You may need a new firebox or smoke shelf to ensure the smoke goes up your flue and not into your home.
How long has it been since you’ve had your chimney swept? If it’s been more than a year, you’re overdue. Having your chimney regularly cleaned helps to prevent creosote fires and it also prevents long-term damage.
To avoid chimney damage from the freeze-thaw cycle, contact us for a free quote for your chimney inspection. We’ll perform a complete, professional chimney inspection to identify any issues. Once we identify any issues, we’ll give you a quote for repairs and let you know what your options are. Don’t wait until winter hits to get an inspection. Get a head start on necessary repairs and thwart winter damage by getting your chimney inspected as soon as possible.