It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing color, the air is getting colder, and storm season is upon us. Unfortunately, this also means that homeowners need to be on the lookout for storm damage to their chimneys. High winds and rain can cause a lot of damage, which often goes undetected until it’s too late. In this article, we will discuss some of the risks associated with storm damage and how you can protect your chimney from harm. We’ll also talk about the importance of having a qualified professional perform inspections and repairs after a storm hits. Keep your home safe and sound this hurricane season!
Did you know that your chimney is the part of your house most likely to take wind damage? This is because the chimney is usually the tallest part of the house. No other part of the structure is sheltering it from the force of the wind, called “wind load.” Your chimney is built to easily handle the everyday gusts in your area, but strong weather events such as hurricanes, microbursts, or tornadoes can place an abnormally high wind load on the structure. In addition, the increased humidity and precipitation can cause water damage to the masonry or roof of your home. So what should you look for after a storm, and what steps can you take to protect your home from expensive damage in the first place? Read on to find out!
The best way to protect your home and chimney during storm season is to make sure that all areas of your chimney have been inspected. This is to ensure they are free of cracks or other damage where wind and water can enter. At Black Goose Chimney we offer inspections of all parts of your chimney, from the cap and damper all the way down to the firebox. We will ensure that the overall structural integrity of your chimney is sound. A weak foundation or damaged masonry could leave your chimney vulnerable to toppling over in high winds. Other areas that we will double-check prior to a storm are:
- Chimney Cap – this is the ‘hat’ that sits atop your chimney to keep rain and other debris from falling down your flue. This should be securely attached to minimize the possibility of wind damage and properly fitted to keep water out of your chimney.
- Masonry – we will carefully inspect the bricks and mortar that make up your chimney to ensure that there are no cracks, flaky or crumbly brick faces, or places where the mortar has begun to wear away. All of these are issues that would make it easier for water to infiltrate your chimney and cause ongoing damage. ***Click here** to read our article on weatherproofing and water damage to learn more about the importance of protecting your masonry!
- Flashing – this is the area where your chimney meets your roof, and it should be sealed to make sure that no moisture can enter into your roof from this seam. If properly maintained, this area will be waterproof, but it can begin to wear down, separate from the chimney, or rust.
- Damper – this is the flap that is either at the top of your chimney or immediately above the fireplace, and can open and close to let air through or seal off the space. Your damper is an important defense against drafts and water, and should be undamaged and moving smoothly so that you can close it during a storm.
Once you are sure that your chimney is free of damage, properly weatherproofed, and overall in good working order, you have already taken the most important steps to preparing for any storms that come your way. And when that hard weather hits, make sure the damper is closed. This will help keep out any water that makes it past the chimney cap, which is more likely to happen in high wind and driving rain.
After a storm has passed, what dangers do you need to be on the lookout for? Some of the most obvious damages can be missing, toppled, or broken bricks. These may be easily visible, even from the ground, but can also be found in less accessible places that you might not be able to see. Tree limbs, smaller branches, and other debris commonly blow about in heavy winds and may have collided with your chimney, knocking out bricks or cracking the crown. Your chimney cap may be skewed from winds or debris, and even small areas of the cap fitting poorly can allow water to seep in.
Some less obvious forms of damage can be leaks in the flashing and the masonry absorbing excess amounts of water. Some of the first signs of leaks can be staining or bubbling of the paint or drywall around or above your fireplace, or damp or dark spots in the attic or the underside of your roof. And if your masonry has absorbed too much water from the heavy rains and high humidity, you may notice white, chalky spots on the bricks. These are known as efflorescence, and mean that the water content inside of your bricks is high enough to absorb and redistribute salts that are naturally present in the masonry.
By the time you have noticed larger cracks, leaks inside your home, or efflorescence on the exterior of your chimney, your home may already have sustained some expensive damage. Obvious signs of trouble can take days or weeks to appear after the damage has occurred – this is why it is very important to have certified professionals out to inspect your chimney soon after a heavy storm. Our expert technicians at Black Goose Chimney can perform multiple levels of inspection on your chimney to detect problems that are not visible to the naked eye. We will also take the necessary steps to repair any damage that we find, ensuring that your chimney is as good as new and ready to weather any storm.
Call Black Goose Chimney at (757) 596-2298 to schedule your inspection today! Our technicians are certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the National Chimney Sweep Guild, and the National Fireplace Institute. We are state licensed and provide a Workmanship Warranty as well as 24-hour pager service in case of emergency. Black Goose is the clear choice to help you protect your home this storm season, so don’t wait – call now to keep your home safe and sound!