It’s officially springtime, and we’re definitely experiencing those classic spring rains throughout the Pittsburgh area. And while these rains help to hydrate our lawns and gardens before the hot summer months, there are other areas of your home that don’t agree as kindly to all this extra moisture.
One of these spots is your masonry. Which is why, if you have a chimney, we urge you to give us a call for leak prevention and maintenance before water can do extensive damage. We’d be happy to set you up right!
Water & Your Porous Brickwork
Here’s the thing with your masonry chimney. It’s built from bricks and mortar because these are both reliably strong materials, and they can withstand a whole lot of wear and tear. But that’s doesn’t mean they can stand up to everything. And, surprising as it may sound, it’s biggest threat is water.
How does water harm your brickwork? Well, like a sponge, your bricks easily soak in any water or moisture that they are exposed to, whether that’s melting snow, ice, sleet, or rainwater. Because of this, water can break down your bricks and mortar significantly, causing various spots to crack, crumble, and deterioration.
But the biggest issue that comes from water penetration? The freeze/thaw process. The freeze/thaw process occurs during the winter months. Here’s what happens…
- On days where temperatures drop below zero, all of the water that your bricks have already absorbed freezes, expands, and pushes against your structure from the inside.
- This pressure puts a lot of strain on your masonry, causing small cracks to form throughout it.
- When temperatures rise, the ice melts, leaving behind various openings through which more water then enters.
- Later on, temperatures drop again, causing all of this new water to freeze, which then causes even further cracking.
- …and thus the cycle continues until spring rolls back around.
Now, think back to how many times we went above and below freezing this past winter – sometimes multiple times a week! That’s a lot of freeze/thaw cycles and a lot of wear and tear on your system, overall.
Unfortunately, water’s tyrannical reign over your chimney doesn’t end there… Water is also notorious for rotting your woodwork, spreading rust throughout your system, causing water stains on your walls and ceilings, and a whole lot more.
Repairing Your Masonry
If your masonry is suffering from water damage, the good news is that our crew is qualified to help you out. Our sweeps are certified with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), have ample experience in the field, and we’re highly rated throughout our service area. If there’s anyone to trust with your chimney repairs in Pittsburg and its surrounding cities, it’s us!
So, what do we offer? First things first, we can address any spalling damage that has affected your brickwork, whether that means simply replacing missing or damaged bricks or something more substantial like a rebuild.
Then comes repointing. Repointing involves removing all that old, damaged, and crumbling mortar, and replacing it with new mortar that matches in color, texture, and consistency. And trust us – this isn’t as simple as caulking a few spots. When this job isn’t done appropriately the structural integrity of your system will suffer, as will its curb appeal. Be sure to always trust a pro!
Preventing Water Damage
So, let’s say your brickwork is back to looking good, and you’re ready to put your system to use again. What can be done to keep problems from recurring down the line? Well, here are some products and services we can offer:
- Chimney Caps: Chimney caps actually do a lot for such a simple and affordable device. They block out debris and animals, they help to stop cool downdrafts from swooping into your living room (and causing your heating bills to increase), and they can even put out stray sparks that would otherwise land on your flammable roofing materials. But most importantly, they prevent water from entering and wreaking havoc.
- Crown Repairs: Your crown is built specifically for directing water away from the sides of your masonry chimney. Unfortunately, some weren’t built appropriately or made from quality, long-lasting materials. Our crew can restore your current one or complete an entire rebuild, if necessary.
- Chase Covers: Chase covers are like the crown for prefabricated systems. They steer water away from the sides of the system to avoid further damage, and they work alongside the chimney cap to keep things from entering the inside of the chase, too. Unfortunately, most of the stock models that come with prefab units aren’t super reliable. If yours is failing, it’s time for a sturdier replacement.
- Flashing Repair/Replacement: Have you noticed metal sheets at the base of your chimney? This is the flashing, and it’s what protects that vulnerable area where your roof and chimney meet. Since these areas are constructed differently (and from different materials), this tends to be an easy spot for water to enter and cause damage throughout your home.
- Top-Sealing Dampers: The main purpose of a top-sealing damper isn’t water-related, but since they seal at the top of the flue, they do help to keep excess moisture out. If you currently have a throat damper, but feel it’s time for an upgrade, then consider reaping the many benefits of a top-sealing option.
Next Up… Waterproofing!
When all is said and done, and your masonry is restored and looking great again, waterproofing is the next important step. Without waterproofing products, your masonry will go to the same old routine of being beaten down by the elements. Professional waterproofing products prevent water from entering (it just beads up and rolls off), while still allowing your brickwork to maintain its vapor permeability.
What is vapor permeability? And why is it important? Vapor permeability just means that your brickwork can still breathe and that any pre-absorbed water can still get out. Many store-bought paints and sealers just trap it in where it will only continue breaking down your system and causing damage.
Don’t Put Off Care – Call Today
If your chimney is suffering, don’t put off repairs. Chimney care is a year-round endeavor, and spring and summer is an ideal time to invest in any necessary maintenance (while your system isn’t in regular use).
So, don’t put it off. Give us a call today or reach out online to invest in the care you deserve!