Company Blog

All About Winter Masonry Damage

When you live in the Hudson Valley, you know how brutally cold the weather can be during the winter. Not only do we experience frequent periods of temperatures below snow covered roof and chimneyfreezing, but we can also have winter storms that can leave behind lots of snow and ice in this region. This means homeowners need to be prepared by making sure they have the best preventive measures in place to protect their homes from winter weather damage. One of the most commonly damaged parts of a house by cold temperatures, masonry chimneys can suffer from accelerated deterioration when it is freezing outside. Fortunately, All Seasons Chimney has been taking care of masonry chimneys in the Poughkeepsie area for over 25 years with the highest quality of professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation services. We know how to fix winter masonry chimney damage, and after we have made the necessary repairs, we can talk to you about the different preventive service options we provide that can protect your chimney from future masonry deterioration. We would like to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about winter masonry damage that we get each year.

Why is winter weather so tough on masonry chimneys?

To understand why winter weather can cause so much masonry chimney damage, you should know more about the role that water penetration plays in masonry deterioration. In fact, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has referred to water as the biggest enemy of masonry chimneys. Every time it rains, sleets, or snows, the bricks and mortar joints naturally absorb that moisture because masonry materials are porous. Water penetration leads to erosion, and the CSIA warns homeowners that masonry deterioration can be accelerated during the winter because of freeze/thaw cycles. Also known as spalling, this type of damage occurs when water that is trapped inside masonry materials freezes and expands. As the water freezes and expands, the expansion can cause the bricks and mortar joints to crack and break apart. They could become loose and even fall from the structure of your chimney. Then, when everything melts, the water will flow into those new cracks and the process starts over. Repeated freeze/thaw cycles can result in serious masonry chimney structural damage that could be a safety hazard if repairs are neglected.

How can All Seasons Chimney help me with winter masonry damage?

If you notice damaged bricks and mortar joints on the exterior of your chimney after a period of freezing temperatures, you should contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our team of CSIA-certified chimney professionals. We have years of experience with inspecting winter chimney masonry damage, and you can count on us to fully explain how we can restore the integrity of the structure of your chimney. We have been trained in the best masonry repair techniques, which include tuckpointing. After we remove the damaged bricks and mortar joints, we will replace them with durable masonry materials that have been precisely matched to your existing chimney. After we have repaired the masonry damage, we will make our recommendations for the best water penetration preventive services to keep this from occurring in the future.

What options does All Seasons Chimney have to keep water out of my chimney?

For over 25 years, we have specialized in water penetration preventive services, and you can count on our CSIA-certified professionals to ensure your masonry chimney has the ultimate protection against water leaks. You need a chimney cap professionally installed at the top of your chimney, and our expert team can help you find the best cap for your home. We have a wide variety of chimney caps of different materials, and our chimney professionals will properly install it to ensure it keeps water, and even birds and wild animals, out of your chimney. To protect the vulnerable spot where your chimney meets the roof, we can install and repair customized flashing. Our chimney technicians will take precise measurements to properly layer metal sheeting around your chimney to keep water from leaking into your home. For the ultimate protection against winter weather masonry chimney damage, All Seasons Chimney strongly recommends our professional waterproofing services. We only use 100 percent vapor-permeable waterproofing formulas that have been manufactured for masonry chimneys. This means that you will not have to worry about further spalling damage from trapped combustion gases trying to escape. After we have waterproofed your chimney, we will have reduced the possibilities of water penetration to as low as .01 percent! This professional chimney maintenance service is a great investment that will prolong the life of your masonry chimney.

Even though winter has arrived here in the Hudson Valley, it is never too late to protect your chimney from cold weather masonry damage. Contact us today at All Seasons Chimney to schedule an appointment with one of our CSIA-certified chimney technicians. We are here for all of your professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation needs.

How to Burn the Best Fires

As we head into the coldest time of the year here in the Hudson Valley, it is important to know how to get the most your fireplace to keep your family as cozy and warm as possible this winter. For over 25 years, All Seasons Chimney has provided the region with superior professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation services, and one of our top priorities is teaching our customers how to operate their fireplaces as safely and efficiently as possible. Our team of professionals is certified by industry leaders, such as the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fireplace Institute (NFI), and during our training and certification courses, we have learned the best practices for just about every aspect of chimney and fireplace systems. This includes how to increase the heating efficiency in your home by burning longer, cleaner, and hotter fires. We would like to take this opportunity to share with you some wood burning tips that will help you maximize your fireplace this winter.

wood fire in fireplaceOnly burn seasoned firewood.

When wood is freshly cut, it can have a moisture content as high as 45 percent. Wet, or green, wood can be difficult to ignite, and when you do finally get a fire going with it, the fire must use up most of its energy-burning off the water before it can produce any heat. This results in an overproduction of smoke, corrosive vapors, and creosote, and this creates deadly hazards, such as chimney fires and carbon monoxide leaks. To avoid these risks, All Seasons Chimney recommends that you only burn seasoned firewood in your fireplace. This type of firewood has been allowed to dry for at least six months after being cut. If you do not cut your own firewood, you can find seasoned firewood at reputable dealers. According to the CSIA, properly seasoned firewood is lightweight, grayish in color, and be cracked and split on the ends. If you knock two pieces of wood together, you should hear a hollow sound if the wood has been seasoned. Green wood would make a dull thudding sound. You can also use a digital moisture meter to make sure that the firewood is only 20 to 25 percent water. Once you have purchased your firewood supply, it is important to store it off the ground so that it does not reabsorb any moisture. We recommend you place your firewood on pallets, concrete blocks, or gravel if you do not have a storage shed.

Use the upside-down method to build a top-down burn.

If you struggle to get a fire going, it might have to do with the method you used to build it. Many of us learned how to build a fire using the log cabin style, where the kindling is placed at the very bottom, but the leading experts at the CSIA have found that a better method of building a fire is to do the exact opposite and put the kindling at the top. Known as the top-down method, this technique has been used for centuries to build fires in the large masonry heaters across Europe. You will begin by placing your largest pieces of firewood across the bottom of your fireplace or stove and then continue layering about four or five rows of logs on top of that first layer. Make sure that each row is made up of smaller logs than the last row. Once you have the wood stacked to about half of the height of the fireplace, you should start to layer your kindling on top of the stack of logs. Be careful not to stack your kindling higher than the fireplace opening. You will then light the very top of your kindling with a single match, and as it burns, it will keep igniting the wood below. This “light it and you’re done” procedure allows you to relax and enjoy the fire with your family and friends instead of worrying about adjusting logs in the fireplace to keep the flames going.

Have your chimney professionally swept and inspected at least once a year.

When you burn wood, creosote develops naturally during the combustion process and builds up on the interior walls of your chimney over the winter. Although you can greatly reduce the amount of creosote that is produced by only using seasoned firewood when using your fireplace, your chimney needs to be professionally swept every year. The CSIA has named creosote as a leading cause of chimney fires because it is highly flammable. When All Seasons Chimney sweeps your chimney, we take great care to remove every bit of creosote to reduce the risk of chimney fires. You can trust our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to make sure that your fireplace is safe to use every winter.

Have you had your chimney professionally swept and inspected this year? Contact us today at All Seasons Chimney to schedule your appointment for our professional chimney maintenance services. We are here for all of your professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation needs.