During the cold winter season, millions of homeowners use their fireplaces to warm their living space and cut down on heating costs. While you’re sitting back and enjoying the warm and cozy fire, you may notice that the fireplace is not keeping you as warm as it was in the past. If the chimney is damaged, it can cause severe health and safety issues. You may also notice water dripping in the fireplace or hearing animal sounds in the chimney. There may be other issues that are more difficult to spot. A professional chimney inspection and cleaning can help avoid these common winter chimney problems and more.
Small animals escaping predators or looking for a warm place to rest is another problem for chimneys when they climb or fly into the flue. Chimneys are an attractive spot for small birds, bats, and squirrels. Once inside, they can make a mess and attract pests. They can also cause a flue obstruction. Instead of smoke and exhaust venting out the chimney, it is pushed back down, sending smoke, soot, ash, and debris out of the fireplace. Besides covering your floor and furnishings in soot, it reduces indoor air quality and exposes occupants to carbon monoxide gas. If you hear small animals in the flue, don’t try to trap them or smoke them out. They could be a carrier for diseases and may scratch or bite. The Certified Chimney Professionals at A-1 Chimney Specialist will safely and humanely remove any small animals in the chimney and relocate them to their natural habitat.
One of the most common winter chimney problems is a drafty fireplace. If your damper isn’t shutting completely, you will feel the cold outside air coming out of the fireplace. It is more than a nuisance; it wastes energy and increases heating costs. There could be several reasons for a faulty damper. Creosote build-up around the edges, corrosion, rust, and warping could be preventing it from closing all the way. A worn or damaged damper gasket will also prevent an airtight seal allowing cold air to seep through. You can increase heating efficiency and stop a drafty fireplace with a top-sealing damper. It is mounted on top of the chimney and keeps cold air from entering the flue, so your home stays warmer during the winter.
Water is very destructive to masonry chimneys, and winter happens to be the wettest season along the Appalachian region. Over 40% of the annual rainfall of 56-inches occurs in the Northern Tennessee and Southern Alabama area during this time of year. It’s one of the reasons why water leaks often happen in the winter. A damaged or missing chimney cap, cracks in the chimney crown, warped flashing, and gaps in the mortar joints are common entry points for chimney water leaks. When water gets in the chimney, it accelerates the damage to interior masonry walls, flue liner, firebox, and other internal components. It can also promote the growth of mold. If you notice water dripping in the firebox or spot water stains near the fireplace, contact a Certified Chimney Professional as soon as possible. They will repair the damage to prevent future water leaks and protect your chimney.
Bricks and mortar are porous materials, and the wet winter weather can accelerate its deterioration, causing bricks to flake, chip, and even crumble. Spalling brick is a progressive problem that worsens over time, leaving gaps in the mortar joints. Entire pieces of brick may loosen and separate from the chimney. It weakens the structure and increases the risk of fire and exposure to toxic carbon monoxide gas. A Certified Chimney Professional can often restore the chimney with tuckpointing. It’s a process that removes the decaying material filling it in with a new durable and waterproof bonding material that is color-matched to your chimney.