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What the Cold Can Do to Your Chimney

What the Cold Can Do To Your Chimney - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of MichiganOne of the main purposes of having a fireplace, stove, or other fuel burning appliance is to help heat your home during the cold months of winter. While fireplaces are designed to keep us warm during the cold, the cold can often have a negative impact on chimneys.

The ice, snow, and freezing temperatures we experience during winter can damage your chimney or make existing damage worse. The following are just a few of the ways that the cold can negatively affect your chimney.

The stack effect

The stack effect can cause smoke to backdraft into your home. When the temperature outside is significantly colder than the air temperature inside, as is often the cause during winter, the cooler outside air will rush down the chimney shaft to replace the rising warm air.

These backdrafts can be prevented by keeping the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use. In addition, warming the flue may help prevent smoke from blowing back into the room immediately after a fire is lit. To warm the flue, light a small amount of kindling and hold it under the open damper for several minutes before lighting the rest of the fire. Doing this gradually warms the air in the flue which prevents a rush of cold air from flooding down as the fire is lit.

Water damage

The primary cause of chimney deterioration during the winter months is water damage. Bricks that are cracked or chipped can absorb water from snow and rain, which then freezes as the temperatures drop. The water in the brick expands, creating bigger and bigger cracks or holes. As the water melts, more and more water can enter the brick. This freeze thaw process can cause bricks to crumble and fall away from the chimney.

Likewise, melting snow and ice may cause a leak in the chimney structure. While identifying the cause of a leak may be difficult, it should be done as quickly as possible to prevent water damage to the chimney, flue, or other fireplace structures.

Animal entry

When the temperature outside drops, people tend to spend more time inside to escape the elements. Unfortunately, animals are the same way. Animals such as birds, raccoons, and squirrels often view chimneys are warm, protected placing to spend the winter. You might not even realize they are in there until there is a foul odor.

If you have animals in your chimney, the first step is to have them safely removed by a wildlife professional. Homeowners should not attempt to smoke out the animals by starting a fire or remove animals themselves, as many wild animals may carry diseases. This can also cause smoke and carbon monoxide build up in your home if the smoke from the fire has nowhere to escape.

After the animals have been removed, it is important to have your chimney inspected by a certified chimney sweep. Chimney sweeps can make masonry repairs to prevent animals from coming back as well as remove any blockages left behind in the chimney, which can damage the flue lining or cause smoke and gas to back up into your home.

If you think this winter’s cold weather has damaged your chimney, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today. Our certified chimney sweeps can inspect and clean your chimney and give you the peace of mind to continue enjoying your fireplace.