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Insights and Tips for a Safer Home

How to prepare for Hurricane Hilary: Can your Chimney Withstand the Storm?


August 18, 2023

How to prepare for Hurricane Hilary: Can your Chimney Withstand the Storm?

Los Angeles is about to face a storm unlike any seen in almost a century. As homeowners, it is crucial that we take immediate action to safeguard our homes and the well-being of our families. Although summer storms like Hurricane Hilary are uncommon in this region, it is vital that we prepare for the worst, just as we do during heavy winter rains.

In this article, we will guide you through the essential steps of preparing your chimney and ensuring your safety before, during, and after Hurricane Hilary strikes. 

Tropical Storm Hilary Los Angeles: Steps to Prepare your Chimney

Hurricane Hilary is headed straight for Southern California and with its 205-mph winds, your home needs to be prepared before it hits. As a homeowner in the area, you want to ensure that your chimney is secure before the storm so it won’t become damaged or contribute to any destruction during the hurricane. After all, if done incorrectly, chimneys can quickly become dangerous when associated with powerful winds like those of Hurricane Hilary. 

To gain additional guidance on protecting both your residence and your loved ones, this Los Angeles Times article offers valuable insights.

Inspect and Reinforce Your Chimney

1. Professional Inspection: Before Hurricane Hilary strikes, schedule a professional chimney inspection. A trained chimney sweep can identify and address potential weaknesses or damage that could worsen during the storm. Fixing these issues in advance can prevent costly repairs down the road.

2. Clear Debris: Remove any debris, leaves, or sticks from your chimney’s exterior. These materials can become projectiles during high winds, posing a threat to your home and those nearby.

3. Secure Masonry: Call a professional to examine the masonry for cracks or loose bricks. They will reinforce weak points with mortar to prevent them from becoming vulnerable during the storm. Loose masonry could potentially cause serious damage to your home or nearby structures.

4. Install a Chimney Cap: A chimney cap can prevent rainwater from entering your chimney and causing potential water damage. It can also keep debris and animals out, reducing the risk of blockages.

Safety Measures During Hurricane Hilary

1. Close the Damper: Before the storm hits, make sure to close your chimney damper. This will prevent rainwater, debris, and even small animals from entering your home.

2. Seal Openings: Seal any gaps or cracks around your chimney with weather-resistant materials. This will help prevent leaks and drafts, keeping your home more comfortable during the storm.

3. Reinforce Surrounding Area: Clear the area around your chimney of any loose items that could become projectiles in strong winds. Patio furniture, potted plants, and other outdoor objects should be secured or brought indoors.

A satellite image taken Thursday morning shows Hurricane Hilary off the Pacific coast of Mexico.
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / Associated Press)

After the Storm

1. Post-Storm Inspection: Once Hurricane Hilary has passed, conduct a thorough inspection of your chimney. Look for any signs of water damage–water damage in a chimney can lead to deteriorating masonry due to freeze-thaw cycles, causing cracks and weakening the structure. Additionally, water infiltration can corrode metal components, such as flue liners, increasing the risk of chimney fires and structural instability. Water damage in a chimney can also result in the growth of mold and mildew, foul odors in the home, and damage to interior walls and ceilings near the chimney. Address any issues promptly to prevent further deterioration. 

2. Chimney Cleaning: If debris has entered your chimney during the storm, schedule a chimney cleaning to remove blockages and ensure proper ventilation.

3. Repairs: If you notice any significant damage to your chimney, consult a professional chimney repair specialist. Ignoring damage can lead to more extensive problems over time.

By taking these proactive steps, homeowners can significantly reduce the risks associated with Hurricane Hilary and protect their homes and loved ones. Your chimney is a critical part of your home’s structure, and proper preparation and maintenance can go a long way in safeguarding it during severe weather events. Stay safe, stay informed, and be ready to weather the storm with confidence.

To stay informed and track the storm, check out these essential links:

The National Weather Service

The National Hurricane Center