How Summer Storms Can Affect Your Chimney
With the warm weather and sunshine that summer brings, most homeowners don’t normally think about the chimney when trying to stay cool. However, summer storms can be just as devastating to your chimney as the cold winter weather. The warm, humid conditions with bouts of rain, lightning, and strong wind gusts can sprout water leaks and other damage to your chimney and fireplace.
Damaged Chimney Cap
Its location at the top of the chimney makes the chimney cap a prime target during stormy weather. Heavy rains, hail, and strong winds can damage the chimney cap or cause it to separate from the chimney, particularly if it was loosened in a prior storm requiring its repair or replacement. A damaged or missing chimney cap will allow rain to leak inside the fireplace. Small animals, pests, and debris will also be able to get inside. A humid and damp chimney in the summer can also create conditions for foul odors, bacteria, mold, and mildew.
Cracked Chimney Crown
The cement chimney crown tops the masonry structure and is designed to deflect water away from the chimney to prevent pooling on the surface. However, summer storms and lightning strikes can damage the chimney crown resulting in water leaks. Depending on the damage caused by summer storms, the chimney crown may need repair or rebuilding to protect the chimney system from moisture intrusion.
The metal flashing covers the seam between the roof and chimney. It’s a critical component for preventing water leaks that can damage the attic, roof deck, and masonry. However, heavy rains and hail can accelerate its deterioration, leading to warping or corroding. Flashing repairs or replacement should only be performed by an experienced chimney professional. If the flashing is not installed correctly, its watertight seal may be compromised during the next summer storm.
Efflorescence is a white chalky substance that covers the bricks. It occurs when moisture penetrates deep inside the bricks, drawing the salts to the surface. It is also a sign that water is damaging the bricks. If it is not repaired, the water will continue to damage the masonry causing bricks to crack, crumble, and separate, ultimately destabilizing the chimney.
Protecting Your Chimney
Several things homeowners can do to protect their chimney and prevent summer storm damage:
Get an annual chimney inspection: The first item on any homeowner’s list should be a yearly chimney inspection. There is no substitute for having a trained chimney professional conduct a visual review of the entire chimney system to ensure it is structurally sound and its components are secure and free of water leaks and damages.
Make chimney repairs: If a chimney inspection reveals any deficiencies or components that need repair or replacement, making the necessary chimney repairs now will help protect it from summer storms and save money on more extensive repairs later.
Waterproof your chimney: Waterproofing the chimney will prevent moisture intrusion and masonry damage. We use a vapor-permeable sealant that is designed specifically for masonry chimneys. It bonds to the masonry keeping water out while allowing the masonry to “breath” so that smoke, gases, and internal moisture can escape.