Pay Attention to Crumbling Chimney Bricks & Mortar
Older chimneys and those that have suffered damage often show signs of crumbling within the masonry. Bricks crack and dislodge, mortar joints decay, and leave gaps. When you catch these problems early, you can prevent potentially serious and unsafe operating conditions down the line.
Even if your chimney has been damaged for some time and has significant problems, the right chimney repair and rebuilding work can restore it to safety and make it perform as it was intended.
Chimney Masonry Damage
A lot of things can affect the bricks and mortar that were used to build your chimney.
Some of the more common reasons for masonry damage and crumbling include:
- Normal house-settling
- A chimney footing that was built incorrectly and/or used inferior materials
- Poor quality workmanship or cheap materials used in constructing the chimney
- Major hail storms
- Lightning strikes
- Damage that begins internally due to excess acidic creosote in the flue and other causes
- Cracks in the masonry that allow water to infiltrate and cause more serious damage
- Year after a year of intensely hot and cold air temperatures
As you can see by this list, many common reasons for chimney masonry damage can’t be prevented: you can’t control the weather or seismic events, and you can’t roll back the age of your chimney. However, some types of damage can be prevented – and all types of damage can be repaired.
Assessing water damage to your chimney
A very common cause of a crumbling chimney is water infiltration. A leaky chimney will continue to get worse until large sections of masonry are showing loose or missing bricks and decayed
Water erodes chimney building materials. When the water inside cracks freezes, it expands (just like ice in your freezer) and pushes out against the surrounding material, breaking it apart.
Minor cracks in your chimney often can be sealed with a waterproof compound. This will prevent further water infiltration. More serious problems can be addressed through tuckpointing, during which crumbling mortar is scraped out and replaced with a strong new compound.
When extensive damage is present, partial or complete chimney rebuilding usually is necessary to restore safety and performance to your chimney.
Signs Of A Leaky Chimney
Annual chimney inspections by a CSIA-certified technician will help you stay on top of issues with your chimney. In between inspections (but not in lieu of them), you can watch for signs that point
Water in the firebox
Crumbling around the base of the chimney on the roof
Dampness on the ceiling and walls near the fireplace/chimney inside your home
A leaning chimney
Foul odors coming from the fireplace
Loose bricks/missing bricks
White stains (efflorescence) on the exterior chimney masonry
Find out exactly what’s going on with your chimney – whether you notice signs of crumbling and damage or not. Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney serves the entire Buffalo, NY, and Rochester, NY,
Call (716) 907-4914 in the Buffalo area or (585) 308-4914 in and around Rochester.