Why Ice Dams are Dangerous for Your Chimney

Wintertime often brings visions of snow, hot chocolate, and a cozy fire in the the fireplace, but it also has its own set of hazards.

Wintertime often brings visions of snow, hot chocolate, and a cozy fire in the the fireplace, but it also has its own set of hazards. Whether your winter has been harsh or mild for you this year, your chimney may be damaged by these dangers. Do you have an ice roof with icicles hanging off the eaves of your home? It may be picturesque, but icicles may be a sign of ice dams on your roof and chimney. The ice damages chimney as water backs up and can cause a serious hazard. This can harm your chimney’s masonry over time and can become a liability when you use your fireplace.

Why Ice Dams are a Hazard to Your Chimney

Sure, icicles look pretty, but they have a sinister side. As ice backs up against your chimney, it damages the masonry and any flashing around the chimney. Beneath, water seeps into the stone, flashing, and your roof, causing serious damage. You may have roof leaks and damaged masonry as a result. If allowed to continue, it can degrade your chimney and can lead to expensive repairs if allowed to continue. A damaged chimney can be dangerous if the masonry comes loose, both as a falling hazard and a fire hazard.

How Ice Dams Form

Ice dams can form around chimneys for many reasons. One reason might be that there isn’t enough insulation around your chimney in the attic to prevent heat loss. When warm air from your home and fireplace enter the chimney, the masonry becomes warm too. If not properly insulated, that warmth can heat up the flashing around the chimney and cause snow to melt. That water refreezes and causes an ice dam. The water seeps into the masonry, damages the flashing, roof, and chimney.

Ice dams can also form if the chimney isn’t situated at the highest point on the roof, or if it is on the roof’s concave corner. Both are excellent places for ice dams to form and for possible damage. These ice dams can pull up the flashing, damage the masonry, and cause your roof to leak as well.

What You Can Do About Ice Dams

If you suspect you have an ice dam, or if you see a lot of icicles on your home, the first step is to call a chimney sweep and repair service to come out and evaluate the problem. Don’t try to clear the ice dams or repair your chimney yourself — getting up on an icy roof is extremely dangerous and you could serious injure yourself. The chimney sweep and repair service can evaluate your chimney and make recommendations for the proper repair of your chimney, flashing, and the roof around the chimney where the ice dams have formed. They should be able to insulate your chimney, if the chimney hasn’t been properly insulated, update the flashing, and help you eliminate your ice dam problem in the future.

Keep an eye on your roof this winter and make sure you don’t have ice dams forming, especially around your chimney. If you do, contact an expert as soon as possible to mitigate the problem before water and ice damage your chimney and creates an annoyed, if not dangerous, situation. And don’t forget to have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year to avoid fire hazards and possibly expensive repairs.

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