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Protect Your Home Against Summer Storms

chimneys in summer thunderstormsWhen it rains, it pours, as the old saying goes – and that’s great for the garden and the lawn, but not for your chimney. In fact, next to a chimney fire, water is a chimney’s worst enemy. When the summer storm season arrives, here’s how to protect your chimney.

“New” damage may be old damage

It’s common for folks to notice signs of a chimney leak or problems with their chimney’s structure during the spring and summer, when rain begins in earnest. However, the damage that eventually leads to the leak possibly has been in place for many months or longer. Water damage to a chimney is a gradual process that you normally won’t spot in its earliest stages. This is why an annual chimney inspection from a certified chimney sweep is so important.

 

What kind of damage can water cause?

Water can rust components of the chimney, and it can infiltrate cracks in the masonry, where it begins to eat away at bricks and mortar. Here are some common problems water can cause for chimneys.

  • Rusted chimney chase tops, flashing, dampers and hinges
  • Rotting of all metal structures and assemblies
  • Brick spalling, brick decomposition, severe cracking in mortar joints
  • Missing sections of mortar leading to a chimney that leans to one side or is beginning to fall apart
  • Excess moisture within the flue that creates foul odors emanating from the firebox
  • Staining of interior and exterior masonry
  • Water damage to the home’s building materials

Fixing water damage during the summer storm season

Water damage and chimney leak repair begins with a thorough inspection. Only CSIA-certified technicians have the training and equipment to determine where a leak exists, what has caused it and how to fix it. Once the problem is understood, one of two courses of action can be taken.

water damaged mortar

Waterproofing: If the chimney leak is minor, often an application of a strong water sealant will halt further damage and keep the chimney safe to operate. The ideal sealant is “vapor-permeable,” meaning it will allow interior gases, smoke, heat and moisture to escape the seal while preventing outside moisture from getting through it.

Chimney repair: In cases of significant damage, chimney repair is in order. Depending on the location and nature of the leak, a professional chimney services technician can perform a variety of repair projects including:

  • Chimney crown rebuilding
  • Chimney cap repair, replacement or installation
  • Flashing repair or replacement
  • Chimney brick repair/tuckpointing
  • Chimney liner repair or installation
  • Throat damper or top-sealing damper repair or replacement

Chimney fires

If you run a wood-burning fireplace, it’s possible your chimney has been damaged through one or more chimney fires. These fires often happen without the homeowner knowing about them – they start and then go out on their own. But they do cause damage to the chimney liner and the chimney structure, which can allow infiltrating water to start a damage cycle of its own.

By having your chimney professionally cleaned of flammable creosote once a year, you greatly reduce the chances of a fire in your chimney.

The only chimney that’s safe to use is one that is free of damage. If your chimney is showing the effects of water damage and it seems to be getting worse in heavy rains, call Chimney Saver Solutions of Richmond, VA. Our certified chimney specialists will get to work quickly to find where the problem lies and get it fixed correctly and safely. Call (804) 440-5000 with questions or to schedule an appointment.