How Does Winter Chill and Precipitation Affect Your Chimney and Masonry?
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  • How Does Winter Chill and Precipitation Affect Your Chimney and Masonry?

    How Does Winter Chill and Precipitation Affect Your Chimney and Masonry?


    Even the experts at This Old House agree that restoring a crumbling chimney requires extensive work, so if you are interested in keeping your exterior chimney masonry in good shape, you must first understand how the cold weather affects it. What’s more, the cold weather can wreak havoc on the pressure in your home, making it difficult to light a safe fire. Here’s what you should know about how the winter chill and precipitation could affect your chimney.  

    Understanding the Stack Effect

    The Wood Heat Organization has explained the stack effect as a series of events that occur when warm air inside your home tends to rise – and rise quickly when the outside air is very cold – which creates varying pressure on different levels of your home. The stack effect, then, occurs when you have low pressure on the lower level of your home and high pressure on the upper level of your home.

    Cold air leaking into your home from anywhere will then worsen the balance of pressure in your home, and over time, this amplifies the stack effect to the point where you could experience a backdraft in your chimney. When you light a fire in the presence of such a backdraft, smoke enters your home and does not travel up through the chimney as it should

    Crumbling Masonry

    Precipitation is another concern in the winter, especially as temperatures freeze and thaw repeatedly. Masonry is porous, so when it rains or when snow melts, the water seeps into the pores of the brick and mortar. Then, as the temperature drops below freezing, that moisture starts to expand, forcing the brick and mortar apart and creating tiny fissures. Though it’s difficult to notice at first, after a few freeze and thaw cycles, there’s little doubt that the masonry will inevitably weaken and begin to crumble.

    Once your masonry begins to crumble, there’s little else you can do but replace it – at least in the areas where the damage is worst. Leaving it as-is could result in even further damage, ultimately leading to structural damage and rot inside your home.

    Tips to Prevent These Issues

    The best way to protect your home from the stack effect and prevent crumbling masonry involves keeping your fireplace and chimney in good working order with regular cleanings and inspections. Aside from this, be sure that you have sealed your home as much as possible to prevent the stack effect in the first place, and if you ever feel a draft while lighting a fire that blows smoke out into your home, stop and call a professional right away.

    On the other hand, to prevent masonry issues, you can consider waterproofing your bricks and mortar using products designed to last through harsh weather conditions. Then again, simply repairing any noticeable fissures and cracks as they appear can also go a long way toward keeping things in good shape.

    Lindemann Chimney Service can help you get to the bottom of your stack effect and your crumbling masonry issues. Just give us a call or visit us online to schedule an appointment. With decades of expertise, we will find the issue and help make your fireplace safe and efficient once again.

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