Fireplaces and stoves are a great way to add supplemental heat to your home during the cold winter months. However, before you operate your fireplace for the first time this winter, you need to make sure that it is ready for cold winter weather. Ice, snow, and drastic temperature swings have the potential to damage your chimney. Also, even if your chimney is structurally sound, issues can arise if your chimney is allowing your home to be exposed to cold air from outdoors. At TN Fireplace and Chimney, we want you to have a safe and warm home when cold weather arrives. That’s why we want to let you know what you can do to protect your chimney and home from the cold.
Cold and Your Masonry
Moisture can cause a number of different issues to your masonry. However, the combination of moisture and freezing temperatures can be downright devastating to your chimney masonry. When it rains or sleets on your chimney, water can rest on your chimney’s brick and mortar. Although you might not be able to see it, your brick and mortar has tiny little pores in them. This means that they can actually soak up moisture which can pool inside you masonry for months. These pools will slowly dissolve your brickwork from the inside out, however, a larger issue occurs when there are freezing temperatures. When temperatures get below freezing, the pools of water in your masonry will also start to freeze and expand. With no space to expand, freezing water will put large amounts of pressure on your masonry from the inside out, causing it to chip, crack, or break free from mortar joints. In Knoxville, we can go through the freeze/thaw cycle many times throughout the winter, compounding this issue.
Protecting your masonry from moisture should be a priority all year long, but especially in the winter. There are a number of components that work together to make sure your chimney is protected from moisture. Your chimney cap is considered the first line of defense against moisture. It hovers above your chimney opening, protecting the masonry inside your chimney from rain, snow, and ice. Your chimney crown protects the brickwork around the opening of your chimney. It consists of a mortar or concrete crown around your chimney opening that angles away from the inside of your chimney, causing water to deflect away from your chimney. Your chimney flashing is a metal strip that bridges the gap between the chimney and opening where it comes out of the roof, preventing water from accumulating on your masonry inside of your home. In some cases, we will recommend using a chimney sealant to further protect your masonry from moisture. If neither of these components is installed or working properly, your chimney masonry isn’t properly protected from moisture meaning you could be putting your chimney’s health at serious risk this winter. At TN Fireplace and Chimney, we have the knowledge and experience to make sure that your chimney masonry is protected from the effects of both moisture and freezing temperatures. Making sure your masonry is protected could save you a lot of time, energy, and headaches in the long run.
Cold Air in Your Home
Go over to your fireplace and stick your hand in it. Do you feel cold air coming out of it? Oftentimes, homeowners don’t realize that their chimney is causing their heating costs to skyrocket in the winter. However, due to a condition called the stack effect, your chimney could be letting in cold air. The stack effect is caused when the air pressure outside your home is higher than the pressure inside your home creating a vacuum in your home. Usually, the reason behind this is because modern homes are more airtight, so the air pressure inside of your home can’t easily normalize with outside air pressure. This means that your home will try to draw air into it to equal the pressure outside of your home. This usually happens through the chimney. During winter months, this means cold air can enter your home, which means you use more energy, and more cost, to keep your home warm.
The best way to remediate issues with air pressure is to prevent air from getting into your home through the chimney. At TN Fireplace and Chimney, we usually suggest installing a lock-top damper to block your chimney’s entrance. Lock-top dampers are located on top of your chimney and can be opened or closed depending on if you are using your fireplace or not. Sealing your chimney from the top has the added benefit of providing superior protection from rain, debris, and animal intrusion.
Let TN Fireplace and Chimney Keep You Warm This Winter!
Let the chimney and fireplace experts at TN Fireplace and Chimney keep you protected from the effects of cold weather this winter. Our experienced staff has been trained and tested by the Chimney Safety Institute of American (CSIA) meaning that you can be sure that we will perform our work correctly, safely, and ethically. Obtaining a CSIA certification is no easy task and it’s one thing that sets us apart from all other chimney service providers in the Knoxville area.
If you need chimney inspections, maintenance or repairs to prepare your chimney for the cold winter weather this year and you live in Knoxville or the surrounding areas, please contact TN Fireplace and Chimney by calling (865) 922-2262 or use our online scheduling tool to talk to us about how we can best serve you. We look forward to hearing from you and from our home to yours, have a safe and happy holiday season!