Winter is such an amazing season! You can spend time skiing, ice skating, or snowshoeing, and even just taking a walk can be a whole new experience when you have sparkling snow falling gently all around. After you’ve spent some time out in the cold, it feels so good to sip a cup of hot chocolate while you’re snuggled up in front of a snapping, crackling fire. Every fireplace owner knows the importance of having their fireplace maintained every year by having it inspected and cleaned. If that’s something you haven’t had done for the year, there’s still time to give SirVent Chimney and Venting Service a call and we can fit you in. But even if you have had your inspection and sweeping done for the year, there are some common issues that occur during the cold winter months.

Animal Issues

snow covered roof and chimneyOne thing you need to be concerned with is animals getting in your chimney. This can happen at any time of year. For example, in the spring many animals and birds are looking for a spot to build a nest to raise their families. But during the winter months, there’s even more reason for animals and birds to stay in your chimney. When it gets cold out, critters, whether two-legged, four-legged, or winged, are looking for a warm and cozy spot to hole up for the winter. What could be more comfortable in the middle of a cold, windy night than your chimney? It can be tougher in the winter to notice if you have uninvited guests in your chimney than it is in the summer, but either way, it’s important to safely remove those guests and then make sure that they can’t get back in. Animals can carry diseases, and they can also create blockages that could cause a chimney fire. Your fire won’t burn as efficiently if there is anything blocking your chimney, and it could harm the animals if you start burning fires in your fireplace while they are taking up residence in your chimney. Once you have the creature or creatures safely removed, we’ll want to make sure that your chimney cap is in good shape to keep any more animals and birds out!

Stack Effect

The stack effect is the movement of air into and out of chimneys, flue-gas stacks, buildings, or other containers. It results from air buoyancy and it can cause a back-draft of smoke into your home. When the temperature outside is colder than the temperature inside, that colder air can flow down the chimney and interchange with the warm air that is rising from your fire. That will push that warm, smoky air right back down and into your home. One way to keep this from happening is to make sure that your dampers are tightly sealing and that you remember to close these during the winter months. You can also warm your flue by lighting a small amount of kindling and holding it beneath the open damper for a few minutes before lighting the rest of the fire. This will warm the flue and help prevent a rush of cold air from rushing down your chimney once that fire is lit.

Freeze-Thaw Effect

Another thing that is more prevalent during the winter months is the freeze-thaw cycle. The bricks and mortar of the fireplace are porous, and that means that when it rains or sleets, that precipitation can permeate the surface and settle in those pores. When the weather freezes, that water expands and causes those pores to get bigger. When it precipitates again, then the cycle will repeat itself with those pores continuing to get bigger each time. This can, over time, cause structural damage to your chimney. If not found in a timely manner, you could eventually have a very costly repair job on your hands. Another issue, along the same lines, is snow damage. Depending on the amount of snow you get, you may have a lot of extra meltage, and that can cause leaks in your chimney system.

Check Your Vents

It’s especially important during the winter months to make sure that all your vents are clear of snow or ice accumulations. If this doesn’t happen, you could have dangerous gases that should be getting out through those vents leaking back into your home. Some of these gases can cause serious health issues, especially carbon monoxide, which is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, or even death to occur. It’s especially important to check those vents in the wintertime when they can more easily be blocked by the ice and snow.

Call Us For Answers

No matter what your chimney issues, one thing is clear, and that’s who you should call if you have any questions about chimney issues that come up during the winter months. The company to call is SirVent Chimney and Venting Service. We want the best for all our customers in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C., so give us a call whenever you have questions about your chimney system!