After a long winter of snow, ice, and freezing temps, spring is finally here. And with spring comes blooming flowers, chirping birds, walks in the sunshine, and… chimney leak prevention?
That’s right – spring is notorious for producing some pretty rainy weather, and if you have a masonry system, then you need to do everything possible to keep it protected from water-related damages and deterioration. And one of the best ways to do that is by investing in chimney waterproofing.
How does water damage my masonry?
First things first, how exactly is water harmful to masonry? Well, there are various materials that, coming face-to-face with bricks, would easily lose out, but this isn’t the case with water. Rather, it soaks into the brickwork, like a sponge, where it sits tight causing all types of decay and damage over time.
In fact, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has named water chimney’s number one enemy, and for good reason! In addition to causing masonry damage, water can also trigger rusting, wood rot, staining in your home and on your chimney, clogs in your flue, damage to your HVAC system, mold growth, foul odors, and more. Not good.
And here in the Northern VA area, we also need to worry about the freeze/thaw process
What is the freeze/thaw process?
So, what happens to water when it freezes? It hardens and expands. And if this water is already inside of your brickwork, it’s going to wind up putting a lot of pressure on your chimney, as a whole, which results in cracking and decay. Now, if that only happens once or twice, it may seem like not a big deal… but that isn’t normally the case in our neck of the woods.
What happens here is that temps eventually work their way up and down many times throughout the winter season. When things are above freezing, the ice in your brickwork melts, during which more water enters through the newly formed cracks. Then, when temps drop again, it freezes causing even more cracking to occur.
This typically happens many times per season, meaning you’re sure to end the season with a lot more damage than you came into it with.
Should I always trust a pro?
Easy question. Yep!
We get the appeal of DIY, and in this day and age, you can find a DIY video online for just about anything. That said, when it comes to your chimney, there isn’t much that shouldn’t be handled by a qualified pro. We spend a lot of time studying and training to become experts in this field, and chimneys are complex systems that need to be handled appropriately. If everything isn’t done just right, you could wind up facing some serious hazards, like chimney fires, carbon monoxide exposure, and more.
What can go wrong if waterproofing is done by an inexperienced hand? Well, for one thing, important areas could be missed, which means damage will only continue to occur (and you’ll need to eventually shell out the big bucks for repairs down the line).
Then, there’s the issue of vapor permeability. The products used need to be vapor permeable. Many store-bought sealants and paint are not (or claim to be, but to do a subpar job), but a professional will only use products that are best for your system.
What is vapor permeability & why is it important?
Vapor permeability is essentially your system’s ability to breathe. Any water absorbed into your brickwork will eventually work its way back out, but only if the waterproofing products used allow for it. If the sealer you’re using is not 100% vapor permeable, the water inside of your bricks will not be able to get back out and damage will continue to occur.
Do I need waterproofing if my chimney isn’t damaged?
Definitely. In fact, waterproofing is a surefire to ensure your system remains damage-free. Trust us… if your chimney isn’t protected against water, it’s only a matter of time before problems will arise.
Also, keep in mind that just because a chimney doesn’t look damaged doesn’t mean issues aren’t present. Many times, damages are hidden within the flue, leaving homeowners with a false sense of security every time they light their seemingly perfect fireplace. This is why annual inspections are something we so strongly encourage!
When should I invest in waterproofing?
If you’re looking for an ideal time of year to get waterproofing done, this is it. Why? Well, first of all, the weather is nice and warm, meaning that any repairs we need complete before diving into the waterproofing will be able to properly cure. The waterproofing products will also have ample time to soak into your brickwork, then dry out without bad weather or cold temps affecting the process.
Second of all, scheduling will be easier. Springtime maintenance is always going to be easier to book because we’re less busy this time of year. Come fall, our calendar fills up fast, and those that waited on maintenance are often forced to push back the start of their burning season – not ideal.
Finally, your system deserves protection as soon as you can offer it! Why expose it to summer storms unprotected when you can start safeguarding now?
Give Our Sweeps a Call Today
Now is a great time to invest in waterproofing, as well as many other chimney and fireplace services, too. If you need care, we’re the team to trust throughout Northern VA. Give us a call at 703-379-5006 or reach out online today!