It should not be surprising that the highest point of the house, which even now in this current weather may be getting snow, sustains water damage over time. It may, however, be surprising to realize that water is more damaging to certain types of chimneys than fire. Water damage is also a great deal more common than chimney fires, although no less serious, really.
Often ultimately to blame for the fire, water gradually erodes even brick chimneys and always threatens to quickly find its way through cracks in mortar and gaps in joints. This brings on its much more rapid destruction of the chimney and is what makes the damage it causes so common. A vicious cycle of contraction and expansion begins that worsens with every episode of heating and cooling. That would be every time the fireplace is used, so water is high among many rooftop reasons for routine inspections of chimneys by qualified sweeps.
Common Sense and Water Damage Don’t Go Together
Obviously, soot and creosote accumulation are serious problems that also require professional attention, but water damage is less obvious to people. Homeowners tend to worry about fire, not water, until it is too late, and chimney spalling or water in their fireplaces announces the bad news. If they are confident that the flue liner is shiny, free of flammable creosote deposits in any stage, they tend to forget about water.
This is especially true when fireplaces are unused for long periods after a careful inspection and professional cleaning. After all, the homeowner was assured the chimney was in good condition and the fireplace has not been used since. Who thinks about what water might have done in the intervening period when they go to light the fire?
No more something to play with than fire, water damage to chimneys is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind “invisible” killer. It deteriorates mortar, leaving cracks and holes for heated air to slip through, threatening the structure of the house itself. Let a chimney sweep who knows how to see its early signs work their magic, and spare your chimney from all too common water damage.