Is Your Chimney Masonry Crumbling? Here’s What You Need to Know.
The bricks and mortar used to build chimneys are strong and should perform well for years. But that doesn’t mean they’ll last forever. Over time and under certain circumstances, chimney masonry can begin to crumble. This is a process that won’t reverse itself and should be addressed before extensive damage occurs.
Common reasons for crumbling chimney masonry
The crumbling we’re talking about is from damaged bricks and mortar. This can happen for a variety of reasons including:
- Lightning strikes
- Severe hail storms
- Water damage
- Poor-quality materials used to build the chimney
- An improperly built chimney footing
- Season after season of intense weather conditions
- Plain old age
Some of these can’t be prevented, but all types of masonry damage can be repaired. One of the most common causes of crumbling masonry is water infiltration.
Leaky chimney issues
Cracks in your chimney’s bricks and mortar joints will allow water from rain and melting snow to get inside. Once there, the moisture will slowly begin to erode the materials around it. In cold-weather areas, the moisture will freeze and expand and cause rapid damage.
When caught early, this problem can be easily repaired and then prevented. Small cracks throughout the chimney structure can be sealed with a water repellant that will keep more water from moving into the system. Extensive crumbling and brick issues often can be solved through a process called tuckpointing, which scrapes away decayed mortar and replaces it with a fresh new compound.
In cases where significant damage is present, partial or complete chimney rebuilding may be necessary to restore safety and performance to the structure.
Do you have a chimney leak?
Be on the lookout for these signs of a leaky chimney or damage that may lead to a leak:
- Crumbling masonry on the roof
- Cracked or loose bricks
- White discoloration (efflorescence) on the exterior chimney masonry
- Cracks in the chimney crown
- A damaged chimney liner and/or internal masonry damage
- Foul odors coming from the fireplace
- Damp or discolored sections on the ceiling and walls near the fireplace
- Water in the firebox
If you notice any of these signs, contact a licensed chimney professional for an inspection and any necessary repair work. (An inspection may be required to evaluate problems inside your chimney flue.)
Annual chimney inspections will save you big money
Having your chimney inspected once a year by a chimney technician certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is the best way to prevent major, expensive damage down the line.
An inspector can determine where damage exists, what has caused it and how pervasive it is much more easily than you can. Most inspectors also can engage in chimney repairs, chimney cleaning and chimney rebuilding.
The trick to keeping your chimney working great and operating safely is to get minor repairs done as they’re needed. Crumbling masonry is one of the early signs that something needs to be addressed, so don’t put it off.
Hudson Valley Chimney of Poughkeepsie, NY, is ready to help with all your chimney needs from professional inspection and chimney sweeping to all manner of chimney repairs and component installation. Talk to an expert about your chimney today by calling (845) 471-1071.