Winter is great for so many things. You can go skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, snowboarding. Even taking a walk in the moonlight when there’s a gentle snow falling feels fresh and romantic. You know life is good when you come in the house and warm up in front of a crackling fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Even just being inside your house when there’s snow falling can feel cozy and comfortable. But with all those positives, snow does have its downside! Winter can cause special problems for fireplace owners because the cold weather and precipitation can wreak havoc on your chimney.
Chimney Damage Caused by Winter Weather
One way that winter weather can cause damage is because of the freeze-thaw cycle. Your bricks and mortar, although they look very solid, are actually porous material. When precipitation hits, it seeps into those pores and sits there. Then as the weather freezes, that precipitation freezes as well and expands. That expansion will cause bigger pores which in turn fill with precipitation…and the cycle continues. This can cause cracks to appear in the mortar, holes in your bricks, and spalling to occur. Spalling is when your bricks or mortar start to peel and flake because water infiltrates in the pores; if this gets too serious, you may even begin to notices flakes on the ground. This can cause a weakening of the structure of your chimney. If this gets too bad, you could be facing major repairs.
When the weather is cold and snowy, you use your chimney more. That’s one of the advantages of owning a fireplace! But the more you use your fireplace, the more creosote builds up on the interior of your chimney. This can especially be true if you use softer woods or wood that hasn’t been dried properly.
Creosote is extremely flammable. A buildup greater than ⅛ of an inch can easily catch a spark from your fire and cause a chimney fire. Some chimney fires are easily detectable. However, some aren’t as easy to detect, and both can be dangerous in their own right. The damage that can be caused by a big chimney fire is obvious. Your chimney can sustain damage as well as the room that the fireplace is in, not to mention your home if the fire can’t be contained. But an undetectable chimney fire is dangerous as well, because you won’t know to get the damage looked at or repaired as quickly as it should be.
Call the Pros
Winter can cause some serious damage to your chimney. That’s why you need to call us now to set up your annual chimney inspection and cleaning. At Chimney Doctors of Colorado, we know what type of damage to look for and how to fix any repairs that might need to be done. Put that call in soon!