While most of today’s chimneys are built to keep debris and small animals from getting into the flue, snow may sometimes make its way in. In this blog post, chimney cleaning and repair company Batts’ Chimney Services discusses what happens when snow makes its way into your chimneys, and whether or not it’s something you need to worry about.
How Does Snow Make Its Way Into the Chimneys?
When chimneys are not in use, chimneys are closed near the base — just above the firebox — using the damper. While it seals the house from infiltration when the fireplace is not in use, the chimney flue is left open from the damper to the top. Snow can accumulate at the top of the chimney cap, or even make its way into the flue if the chimney cap doesn’t provide sufficient cover.
Can Snow in the Chimney Cause Damage?
The short answer is yes — snow in the chimney can result in problems, such as:
- Meltwater can seep through mortar joints between bricks and weaken the structure.
- Increased risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning if the flue is clogged by snow.
- Damaged firebox due to the weight of accumulated snow in the flue.
- Accumulated snow on the chimney caps can melt and contribute to ice dam and/or icicle formation.
There is also the matter of long-term damage if the problems described above are not addressed by a chimney repair professional. Restoring the damage caused by moisture infiltration typically requires partial or full demolition not just of the chimney, but of the areas surrounding it. Melting snow in the chimney flue can also flow through the damper and into the house.
How to Prevent Snow Damage to Your Chimney
Since the key parts of the chimney are hidden from view, your best defense against the problems described above is to schedule an annual chimney inspection, ideally before winter. In addition to preventing potentially bigger problems, regular inspections also help make sure that you’re getting the most heating from your fireplace. Also, if your chimney has a damaged cap (or doesn’t have a cap at all), consider getting one with a screen.
If you need a chimney sweep or someone you can trust to fix your chimneys, call Batts’ Chimney Services at (205) 956-8207 or (256) 660-1338. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.