Water is a chimney’s worst enemy. Therefore taking the preventative measure of waterproofing your chimney is money well spent to avoid expensive repairs or rebuilding.
Improper or defective mortar or brick can encourage your chimney to absorb water and draw moisture into the chimney, damaging the masonry. Most masonry chimneys will deteriorate as a result of prolonged contact with water. Masonry materials deteriorate especially quickly when exposed to the freeze/thaw process. And of course, water also causes rust in your steel and cast iron chimney parts. Not to mention, when water mixes with creosote in a wood-burning chimney, it creates a foul odor that can permeate a home.
Luckily, there are now some terrific waterproofing agents that work wonders on masonry chimneys. These formulas are 100% vapor permeable, allowing the chimney to breathe. A professional waterproofing will prevent water from entering your chimney from the outside.
If your chimney masonry is already damaged or deteriorated—characterized by gaps, voids, cracks, missing mortar, etc.—your chimney should be repaired before it’s waterproofed. The chimney exterior may also need to be cleaned before waterproofing.
It’s also important to note that even though water does not penetrate stone, stone chimneys use lots of mortar to bond the stone together. So stone chimneys also benefit from waterproofing.
“Most masonry materials are porous and will absorb large amounts of water. Common brick is like a sponge, absorbing water and wicking moisture to the chimney interior.”—Chimney Safety Institute of America
Types of Chimney Water Damage
Water can cause all sorts of damage to both the interior and exterior of your home and chimney, including:
- Rusted damper assemblies
- Deteriorated metal or masonry firebox assemblies
- Rusted fireplace accessories and glass doors
- Rotting adjacent wood and ruined wall coverings
- Water-stained walls and ceiling
- Clogged clean-out area
- Deteriorated central heating system
- Stained chimney exterior
- Decayed exterior mortar
- Cracked or deteriorated flue lining
- Collapsed hearth support
- Tilted, collapsed, or settled chimney structure
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