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Fix Winter Masonry Damage

Winter Masonry Repair Photo - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsWhen winter snow and ice begin to melt and winter weather turns to spring, it can be hard to detect winter damage. Most of the chimney system is hidden, especially to the untrained eye, so unless there are noticeable changes to the system. The best way to diagnose winter damage is to schedule your annual CSIA chimney inspection now. Only a certified chimney expert knows the signs of winter damage, is familiar with the Seattle climate, and knows when best to makes repairs before they become a problem.

Common Winter Damage

At Pristine Sweeps our technicians often diagnose winter damage that ranges from minor, seemingly cosmetic damage like staining, to serious structural damage like spalling and deterioration.

Spalling Masonry

When water penetrates the masonry during winter it undergoes a process called the freeze/thaw cycle, resulting in serious damage. First,the water penetrates the masonry and freezes, causing it to expand and damage the bricks and mortar. It then thaws, moving further into the damaged masonry and repeats the process. This type of water damage should be repaired before spring rains and summer humidity appear. Pristine Sweeps repairs spalling chimneys through a process called tuckpointing in which a certified expert removes mortar and bricks piece by piece and replaces it with new mortar of equal consistency, strength, and color. Pristine Sweeps specialize in masonry repair and all of our masonry work is backed by a five year labor warranty.

Damaged Cap or Crown

Serious snow accumulation can take a chimney crown from a tiny crack to a gaping hole during a full winter of freezing temperatures. A chimney cap, however, when installed correctly should withstand normal winter weather, but sometimes animals and high winds can loosen the caps, causing leaks and winter damage. Pristine Sweeps offers chimney cap repairs and installation that can return your chimney to full protection from weather and wildlife.

Chimney Leaks

Many issues with the chimney can result in chimney leaks. Leaks are best avoided because they don’t only damage your chimney, but can also stain, rust, weaken, and damage materials in your home including ceilings, walls, floors, coverings, and more. A chimney expert from Pristine Sweeps is able to diagnose and repair damage from chimney leaks, but also correct the problem that made the leak possible. The last step to chimney leak repair is to waterproof the chimney to avoid an occurrence later. This is a simple preventative measure that can save homeowners substantially in the future.

The best way to diagnose and repair chimney leaks is to have the chimney inspected at the end of winter. This gives you ample time to make repairs before burning season returns in the fall, and means you can spend the summer knowing that your chimney is taken care of.

Call Pristine Sweeps today at 206-574-8414 and have your chimney assessed for winter damage.

By Aaron Woodward | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

How to Spot Winter Masonry Problems

During the cold months of winter, most people retreat inside to spend time with their families around a roaring fire. Unfortunately, the freezing temperatures that make us want to stay inside can also have a negative effect on our chimneys.

Steep drops in temperatures, freezing rain, sleet, snow, ice, and harsh winds can all contribute to chimney damage during the winter. In addition, these winter weather conditions can make existing chimney damage worse or contribute to accelerated decay.

Below are several common winter masonry issues, what causes them, and how to prevent them from happening or fix any damage they cause.


The freeze thaw cycle

The freeze thaw cycle is the primary cause of masonry damage during the winter. Because bricks and mortar are naturally porous substances, they are meant to absorb small amounts of water. Older or damaged bricks with cracks or holes may absorb even more. When bricks and mortar absorb water from rain or snow and the temperature drops below freezing, the water in the masonry also freezes. The water expands as it freezes, creating larger areas of damage. When the ice melts so does the water within the masonry, leaving larger holes that can now be filled with even more water. This process is called the freeze thaw cycle.

Signs of damage to the masonry of your chimney may include brick that is chipped, cracked, missing pieces, crumbling, or otherwise falling apart. The best way to protect against water damage is to have your chimney regularly inspected and maintained. If your chimney has damaged or missing bricks or crumbling mortar, the masons at Pristine Sweeps can repair the damage, and their work is accompanied by a five year warranty.

How to prevent water damage

To further protect your masonry from the damaging freeze thaw cycle, considering having the bricks and mortar of your chimney waterproofed. Pristine Sweeps uses the special Chimney Saver products which are able to prevent water from getting in while still allowing gas to get out. This is different from latex paints and other sealants which no longer let the brick pass gas.

Other masonry problems

While damage to the bricks and mortar of their chimney masonry is often homeowner’s primary concern during the cold months of winter, there are a number of other ways that winter can affect your chimney system’s masonry. One problem that can occur due to a chimney’s height is the stack effect. The Stack Effect occurs when there is a difference in air pressure between the inside and outside of a home. This can be worsened by heavy winter winds creating external pressure on the chimney. The cold air rushing down the chimney may cause smoke to blow back into the home.

If your chimney cap, chimney crown, or chimney chase cover become cracked or damaged, you may notice water entry into your chimney and fireplace. You may notice that the inside of your firebox is damp or that there is a musty smell when the fireplace is not in use. This type of water entry is equally detrimental to a fireplace system in that it effects many of the metal parts of a fireplace. Damaged chimney caps, crows, or chase covers should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible to minimize damage.

If you have questions about how the winter weather is effecting the masonry of your chimney, contact Pristine Sweeps today!