Chimney Maintenance - 4 Ways to Prevent Portland Summer Rains From Ruining Your Masonry

Summer weather is mostly gorgeous, but there will be times when the weather decides not to play nice, and make things wet for you and your family. It can also have adverse effects, however, on your chimney. Water does more damage to chimneys than fire. This might seem odd, but your chimney is exposed to all the elements. The materials used - brick, mortar, tile, steel, cast iron, etc. - can be dilapidated faster if in constant contact with water.

What all can water penetration do to your masonry? It can cause brickwork to break and ruin metal or masonry firebox assemblies. Dampers can become corroded and wood and wall coverings will rot out. Your central heating system will be damage, the mortar ruined and flue liners will crack. These damages mean money from your wallet to repair these issues.

How can you prevent water from damaging your chimney? Here are four things you can have done:

Chimney Caps

These are one of the least costly options to prevent water damage. Chimneys have many openings, or flues, that collect water, directly funneling it to the interior. A strong, well built chimney cap prevents water, and most other things, from entering the structure.

Replace or repair your Chimney Crown

The crown is the structure's topmost part, and covers and seals the top from the flue liner to the edge. A proper crown will not crack, as it should be made of a strong cement fixture. Unfortunately, most crowns are constructed from the same mix used to lay the brick, which is not designed to withstand the elements. Shrinkage will result in many crowns cracking after installation.

The best crowns are cast to provide a drip edge outside all the edges. This will direct runoff away from the sides, helping avert erosion.

Repair the flashing

This seals the roofing and chimney. It prevents water from running into living spaces, where it can cause damage or rotting wood. Flashing and the counter-flashing work best when embedded and sealed in the masonry joints. It will allow both the roof and chimney to expand or contract without breaking the seal.

Waterproofing

As common brick is like a sponge, it's important to properly waterproof your chimney. There are several products available specifically as waterproofing agents on masonry chimneys, and they are vapor permeable, allowing the structure to expel moisture, but not take it in.

Water damage can be a slow process, so it's important to have your chimney frequently maintained. This will catch issues before they become money-draining problems.

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