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What To Do If You Have a Crumbling or Spalling Chimney

If you’ve recently purchased a home with a crumbling chimney or just noticed this condition in your own family home you probably have a lot of questions. Why is this happening? Can it be reversed, does this mean I need a complete chimney rebuild? We’ve got some answers for you below that will help.

Chimney Repair Rhinebeck, NYWhy chimney bricks begin to crumble

Crumbling brick doesn’t happen overnight. Years of rain and freeze and thaw cycles leading to water damage is usually the culprit. During freeze and thaw cycles water enters the brick through its naturally porous material, cold weather causes it to freeze and expand within the brick just like a glass cracking in the freezer. Weathering occurs that can erode the brick and cause pieces to become loose, flake off and crumble (also called brick spalling).

If you are concerned, you should be. Left on its own, a chimney with this problem will only get worse. The holes will continue to expand letting more water in until it leaks through the roof or finds some other avenue into the home, weakening surrounding structures and encouraging the growth of mold. But all I not lost. There is a way to deal with this issue before your chimney collapses.

Get a Chimney Inspection

Know exactly what issues are plaguing your chimney before you start remediation. Many people begin projects, or even worse, finish projects, only to find there were other issues that could have been solved.

Consider Waterproofing

Once leaks have been identified and fixed, waterproofing a chimney could prevent brick spalling from reoccurring. Chimneys are sprayed with a sealant that allows the bricks to “breathe” meaning water can still exit the brick, so it doesn’t get trapped inside causing further damage.

Remove Damaged Bricks

The damaged bricks should be removed to prevent more water from entering the chimney. Use a chisel to scrape the mortar from around the brick, severely damaged bricks are usually easy to remove. Other bricks may be secure in the mortar but the face of it may experience spalling, if this is the case a drill can help loosen the mortar so the brick can be removed.

Chimney Rebuilding Wawarsing, NYReplace Bricks and Mortar

Choose bricks that match your chimney in color and style. You may be tempted to use a different color brick that you got on sale or bricks you’ve been given for free. The drawback is that you could end up with a “patchwork effect” that is not as attractive. Replacing mortar is key to making sure that your new bricks are “glued” securely in place.

When to call a professional

If your damage is extensive, a professional can tell whether it’s just surface brick or if there are more serious issues at play with your chimney liner, cap, crown, or flashing. Call a professional if you suspect you may need a chimney rebuild. Once again this is not a surface issue and has many other parts in need of expecting replacement, or repair. If you are unsure about this process or are concerned about roof work, calling a licensed and insured professional is definitely the way to go. We here at Hudson Valley Chimney understand how devastating the discovery of crumbling brick can be if you have any questions or need help give us a call today or contact us online, with photos, to get a free virtual assessment.

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