Your chimney is one of the largest systems in your house, and it’s important for your comfort and your safety. One of the most important things when it comes to your chimney system is understanding how it works so that you can use it properly, and so that you can identify a problem.

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Your chimney vents the harmful gases produced by a fire, along with a host of other hazardous materials including particulate pollution, creosote, and more. In order to do this important job, it requires a sufficient updraft. This draft is generated by the heat of the fire, but will pull air from the house itself. The chimney system can be affected adversely by anything that can interfere with the draft, airflow, or any type of damage can bring down the efficiency.

Extreme Temperatures and Your Winter Chimney

Your masonry chimney functions because of the way it’s constructed. Masonry is used for chimneys because their porous properties allow vapors to escape straight through. However, the very thing that makes masonry so beneficial for chimneys, also makes it highly susceptible to water damage. Water can wreak havoc on your entire chimney system, but more than that, water’s natural cycle of freezing and thawing can devastate your masonry.

If water is allowed to enter your masonry through cracks and crevices, it will freeze there, and expand. Once the water expands, it will break apart the brick and mortar, only to melt and move deeper into the damaged masonry, repeating the process. This freeze/thaw cycle will continue throughout winter as the chimney cools and warms up again. Once spring arrives, you can have extreme damage to your masonry that began as a tiny crack. This type of masonry damage will bring down the chimney’s efficiency and lead to an increased fire risk, a waste of firewood, and costly repairs.

Wind-loading and Your Winter Chimney

Wind-loading is a term used to explain the effect of outside winds on the inside of a house. For instance, when wind strikes the home, it creates high pressure on that side, and low on the other. An open window on the windward side of the house will create pressure inside the house. However, cracking a window on the leeward side will depressurize the house, creating a vacuum in the house, and pulling air from the chimney to compensate. If this occurs, you can experience difficulty lighting or keeping a fire burning, and even see smoke push into your living space. The best way to avoid a smoky chimney is to maintain neutral pressure in your home. This can be difficult because modern houses are built so tightly. You can troubleshoot a smoky chimney fairly easily, but if you continue to have problems, you should contact a professional.

Contact Us Now

Robinson Maintenance Repair, Inc. is the #1 choice for comprehensive chimney care for the North, Northwest, and Western Chicago Suburbs. We are licensed, certified, and experienced fixing chimney problems whether from a simple draft problem, or serious masonry damage. Call RMR at 847-290-1883 today to find out how we can help you this winter and year-round.