Summer Storms Can Bring Leaky Chimneys
After a long, cold and dreary winter cooped up indoors, most people look forward for summer to arrive. Summer is a time of having fun soaking up the sun and splashing in a host of outdoor activities. But the hot and humid conditions in many parts of the country can bring summer storms and leaky chimneys during the season.
In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts above normal precipitation in the northern plains and along the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast during the July thru September period in 2017.
These summer rains can cause significant damage to masonry chimneys, especially if the structure and components have been weakened during the freeze-thaw effect of winter weather. This can accelerate deterioration of masonry, corrode internal components and weaken the structure resulting in a potential safety hazard, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).
The main purpose of the chimney cap is to prevent water, small animals and other objects from getting inside the chimney. And with its location perched above the chimney, it takes the brunt of summer storms. A damaged cap will not only allow water to leak inside the flue, but small objects can cause an obstruction blocking smoke and harmful fumes from escaping the chimney the next time the fireplace is lit.
The flashing is a thin metal strip that attaches the chimney to the roof line. It is sealed in place to prevent water leaks. But seasonal weather changes of hot and cooler weather, along with summer storms, can damage the flashing. Even a small gap in the seal can allow water to leak behind the chimney unbeknownst to the homeowner. This type of leak is very difficult to spot without an annual chimney safety inspection.
Summer storms are often accompanied with heavy downfalls and strong winds that can pound away bricks and mortar accelerating the natural deterioration of masonry chimneys. Over a period of time, you may notice gaps and cracks in the chimney from chipped or missing bricks and mortar. Eventually water will penetrate inside the chimney where it can weaken the flue lining, cause the damper to rust, and a host of other structural issues.
Waterproofing the exterior of your chimney will provide a protective seal that can help protect masonry chimneys from the damaging effects of summer storms. While waterproofing is a great way to prevent a leaky chimney, it shouldn’t be your only protective measure. When combined with other protective measures such as replacing damaged components and making necessary masonry repairs, you are building a strong defense against water damage ensuring your chimney is safe and ready for use during the next season.
Rather than waiting for a chimney to spring a leak, homeowners are advised to shore up their chimney with an annual safety inspection by a certified chimney sweep.