Chimney Damage Caused by Freeze-Thaw Cycles
Just as freeze-thaw action must be considered for engineering projects in cold climates, chimney damage caused by freeze-thaw cycles is something that Texans in the Houston and Conroe areas shouldn’t ignore.
A fireplace doesn’t even need to be in use for chimney damage to cause major problems that require professional chimney repairs. Moisture is the most common destructive force that destroys chimney masonry, and it’s largely because of the effects of icy temperatures.
How Does Moisture Get into Masonry?
Year-round, moisture is a threat to chimneys. Bricks are prone to absorb moisture, and that’s why chimneys are built to keep water out. Unfortunately, each component of the chimney is vulnerable to damage, including the chimney crown, chimney flashing, and chimney stack.
Chimney Crown Damage
The chimney crown at the top of chimneys is the white part, and it prevents water from getting between the chimney flue and the chimney exterior. Chimney crowns also, when correctly built, extend out over the chimney to help prevent water from flowing down the chimney stack. Because of exposure to the harsh effects of the elements, chimney crowns crack and deteriorate. Chimney crown damage should be repaired as quickly as possible. Otherwise, moisture will enter the chimney system.
Chimney Flashing Damage
The metal flashing on chimneys creates a waterproof seal in the connection with the roof. Creating this seal is difficult to achieve. Even when flashing is installed correctly, the nails in the flashing are apt to rust. This allows moisture to have a destructive effect on the roof. When flashing pulls away from the chimney stack because of storms and high winds, moisture infiltrates the masonry system.
Flow of Water on the Roof
Rainwater and melting ice can create a continuous, harmful deluge against a chimney stack on some rooftops. When this occurs, a cricket can be installed. A cricket diverts water away from the chimney.
What Happens to Chimneys in Wintry Weather?
If water has already entered your chimney masonry for any reason, chimney damage caused by freeze-thaw cycles will occur. What happens is that the water within the masonry system expands when it freezes and contracts when it thaws. This movement has a devastating effect on the bricks. Each affected brick must be removed and replaced to avoid a leaning chimney in danger of collapse.
Moisture can penetrate the masonry system during winter, even if the chimney was moisture-free before. The same damage from freeze-thaw cycles occurs. For this reason, annual chimney inspections after wintertime are important. Qualified chimney sweeps can identify early signs of moisture damage. If repairs are made promptly, the cost of repair is far more affordable than it would be if the damage continues to worsen and affect more bricks.
Signs of Moisture Intrusion in Chimneys
Evidence of moisture damage in chimneys includes the following:
- Bits of masonry debris around the chimney
- Chimney crown deterioration
- White staining on the chimney
- Mortar is flaking and crumbling
- Walls and/or ceilings near the chimney are water-stained
- The fireplace grate or chimney damper is rusted
Contact Guardian Chimney Sweep Today
In the greater Houston-Conroe area, Guardian Chimney Sweep is the place to call about chimney damage caused by freeze-thaw cycles. All of our chimney sweeps are CSIA-certified and capable of identifying and repairing moisture damage. Contact us today for a chimney inspection, chimney cleaning, and repair of chimney damage caused by freeze-thaw cycles. Contact us online or call Guardian Chimney Sweep today at any of the numbers that follow.
Toll-free: (888) 306-6069
Conroe: (936) 271-9781
Houston: (713) 401-2011