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How Water Harms Your Chimney

Your beautiful fireplace has serves you steadfastly over the years. It never fails to heat your home during or create that idyllic atmosphere on a dreary evening. During the warmer months, it also serves as a magnificent centerpiece to your favorite sitting room. The fireplace may have even swayed you to pick your house in the first place.


To ensure your fireplace functions properly for many more years, it needs regular maintenance. The widely accepted method of caring for the chimney includes an annual sweep, but this is not enough. Many homeowners fail to address one aspect of chimney care that could lead to thousands of dollars in damage: water deterioration.

Masonry chimneys consist of materials like brick, stone, mortar or concrete. The interior of the chimney might feature steel, cast iron, or flue tile. Your chimney contains a combination of these and each one, with the exception of stone, will feel the effects of long-term exposure to water.

Due to the porous nature of brick, mortar and concrete, these materials eagerly soak up any nearby water. If temperature dips below freezing, the saturated materials will undergo the freeze thaw process. The stress of this regular expansion and contraction weakens the structure over time, which will cause cracks or even collapse. While the freeze and thaw process does not affect stone, if you have a stone chimney, you still need to look for water damage. The mortar holding the stones together feels the stress of freezing and will still need regular inspection for damage.

Inside the chimney, any leaking water will rust the flue. Once the water penetrates the flue, the interior side of the brick and mortar becomes exposed to water damage. Further down the chimney, water will rust the damper assembly, which will make proper ventilation impossible. Water damage can also cause rusted faceplate and doors, a cracked or crumbling hearth, or saturated ceiling or walls by the fireplace.

The cost of preventing this damage is significantly less than the cost of repairs to fix any damage. To prevent water damage, you have several options.

Water commonly leaks into the chimney right from the top. Ask a chimney service to install a chimney cap because this is an effective, inexpensive way to prevent water damage. Also have a serviceperson inspect the chimney crown. The concrete slab serves as a roof to keep water out of your chimney, but if the structure has cracks, it will need patching or replacement. Water can also enter through the flashing, which is an aluminum cover that protects the seam where the roof and chimney meet. Over time, the tar sealing the flashing decays, so it simply must be redone. A very effective way to protect the chimney exterior is to have a mason apply a sealant. The vapor-permeable sealant lets wetness escape but prevents outside water from penetrating the porous materials.

If you live in the areas of Delta, Gunnison, Pitkin, Eagle, Mesa, Garfield, or Montrose Counties, contact Bulldog Chimney Sweeps for a professional consultation. These experts will help protect your chimney from water damage for years to come.