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How Cold Weather Can Damage Your Masonry

Cold Problems

Cold temperatures do a number on bricks and mortar. (We can’t give you that exact number because it differs with every set of circumstances; the algorithm considers temperature, construction materials, age, duration, etc.,) We do know this: with cold weather comes freeze-thaw cycles. This puts physical stress on chimneys. The freeze-thaw cycle can lead to masonry deterioration and potential risks.

Old Smokey’s understands what damage cold can cause on your chimney. It isn’t cold by itself that inflicts the harm. Moisture is cold’s ally in the Damage Department. Snow and ice melt leaving you with water or moisture. Moisture in your chimney can damage the brickwork, chimney crown, flashing or liner. Freeze-thaw cycles can affect much more than your chimney. You may have to address issues regarding your whole structure.

Brick absorbs water such as melted snow or ice. Gaps, cracks or crumbling in mortar joints can allow this water to spread to other parts of your chimney.

We have witnessed problems like this many times.

What can be done?

The first and most sensible step is a professional chimney inspection. We have to find out what’s going on — if anything.  A layperson may not recognize problems from freeze-thaw cycles. Schedule an appointment with Old Smokey’s today. Call us at 260-424-0009 or 800-876-6539 or click here.

Let Old Smokey’s Fireplace & Chimney take a professional look at your chimney’s brickwork. We will assess if damage from the cold, or anything else, warrants chimney repair or rebuild.

Chimney damage from freeze-thaw cycles is fairly common. It can cause a variety of problems, from cracking and crumbling joints and bricks to discoloration and mold growth.

Spalling is a significant potential casualty related to freezing and thawing. Spalling is the surface deterioration of your brickwork. Cracks appear. Pieces of brick begin to form chips and break off. It’s a breakdown that demands attention, often resulting in brick replacement or more.

Weather and time do their “number” on your chimney regardless of the chimney’s age or construction materials.

We can help!

Old Smokey’s can conduct an honest assessment of current conditions and guide you through recommended remedial options. What might these be? One option might be repointing. This involves the removal of eroding mortar joints and replacing them with smooth, new mortar. It’s one of our most common chimney jobs. The tedious task allows us to make good use of our expert knowledge of masonry history, materials, techniques and tools.

Other measures might range from selective brick replacement to chimney rebuilds.

We are proud of our Old Smokey’s trained professionals. Old Smokey’s has delivered excellence to homeowners in northern Indiana, northern Ohio and mid-Michigan for more than 20 years Homeowners from Elkhart, IN to Ypsilanti, MI, from Lansing, MI to Fort Wayne, IN in the south are served by Old Smokey’s. They know our “number.” By the way, it’s 260-424-0009 or 800-876-6539.

A Masonry Inspection Can Reveal – And Save

Computer geeks talk about “what you see is what you get.” They even have an acronym for it: WYSIWYG. Old Smokey’s Fireplace & Chimney can tell you when it comes to your chimney masonry, WYSIWYG “ain’t necessarily so,” as the Porgy and Bess song goes. Oftentimes, “what you DON’T see is what you get” regarding the health of your chimney. That’s why an annual inspection is critical. As with any health problem, early detection can serve as a preventive measure and save you money and headaches in the long run.

What hidden dangers can possibly lurk in my masonry?

masonry chimney - Fort Wayne IN - Old Smokey's Fireplace and Chimney

Your chimney masonry may be deteriorating in ways only a professional can see. For example, mortar erosion and breakdown from moisture intrusion is often subtle, especially in the early stages. Perhaps your chimney flashing is failing, or bricks are cracking, or joints need repair. The untrained eye may not detect these incipient problems. And if even if the homeowner could discern a problem, he or she faces safety challenges related to access. Chimney inspection is not a Saturday afternoon DIY project! Just as a doctor may order periodic diagnostic tests, Old Smokey’s suggests annual masonry inspections of your chimney system.

What is involved in a masonry inspection?

In practical terms, we look for symptoms and their causes. We want to examine your masonry for signs of damage from plant growth, such as vines, or damage from fire or moisture. Old Smokey’s professionals want to assess whether masonry deterioration is resulting from poor structural design or construction, inferior building materials, weather conditions, animals’ nesting, seismic disturbance, lack of proper maintenance — or the inevitable ravages of time.

Old Smokey’s performs a range of masonry inspections. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) defines three levels of chimney inspection. The minimum, recommended for those who keep up their chimney maintenance, checks accessible interior and exterior portions and looks for cracks or obstructions. The next level looks for hidden hazards, using video scanning. The most advanced inspection uses special equipment and tools to find root causes of hidden problems. At this level of inspection, certain chimney components, such as a crown, may have to be removed. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) spells out the fine points of these three levels of inspection.

After the inspection, then what?

After discovering the source of your symptoms, Old Smokey’s will make recommendations suited to your conditions and respectful of your budget constraints. Perhaps it’s a small matter, easily corrected, such as mortar joints, or new flashing. If needed repair is more substantial, we will walk you through it and carefully present the best practices and options.

Why call Old Smokey’s?

We’ve been doing this for more than 30 years. We take pride in our reputation, and we enjoy giving our customers the peace of mind that comes from good service and added health and safety. Our loyal customers are our best advertisement. As for professional quality, the peerless Old Smokey’s technicians who perform your masonry inspection are certified specialists. Call Old Smokey’s now at 800-876-6539. Good maintenance is always in season.

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