Every homeowner fears water damage to their home. Whether the water drips from the ceiling due to a torn shingle or the basement fills with a few inches of water after a heavy rain, water can cause serious damage to a home and the bank account. An area that could present problems with water damage is one that few people think about: the chimney. Many wrongly regard the chimney as a strong, indestructible structure designed to survive the elements. While chimneys do live outside, they are not completely resistant to weather, especially not water.
Water can do a surprising amount of damage to a chimney, starting with the outside of it. Masonry chimneys are built with materials like brick, mortar, concrete and stone, and each of the materials aside from stone are susceptible to water absorption. The absorption of water alone is not much of an issue, but when the temperatures fall below freezing, the water becomes problematic. Below freezing, water undergoes continuous expansion and contraction due to the freeze and thaw cycle. Therefore, the water inside the masonry materials also experiences this movement, which degrades the strength of the materials. Issues like cracks in the chimney, missing mortar, and even collapse can result from this freeze and thaw cycle of winter. Fortunately, cracks and missing mortar can be repaired before they result in a collapsed structure. Then, a preventative permeable sealant can be applied by a chimney specialist to keep water from entering the structure in the future.
Water can also affect the inside of the chimney if it is allowed to leak in. First, the water will rust out the metal flue lining. This then exposes the interior of the chimney to the same water damage that the outside experiences. A rusted flue liner full of cracks and holes may also expose the house itself to the high heat of the fire, which could cause an unintentional house fire. The water could also drip down the chimney and rust out the damper assembly, preventing proper smoke ventilation. Water damage may also become evident inside the home, with water stains on the ceiling and walls surrounding the chimney. The hearth can also become damaged after long-term exposure to water. Preventing water from leaking into the chimney is as simple as having a chimney expert install or repair the chimney cap or chimney crown. Both of these fixes are much less expensive than repairing water damage.
Water damage is insidious and can cause thousands of dollars in repair before you even realize it is a problem. Avoid these high costs by having an annual chimney inspection, where a professional can catch water damage in the very first stages. If you live in central Colorado near Evergreen, contact Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney for a professional consultation.