Signs of chimney masonry damage to look for

Winter is hard on your chimney’s masonry, as it endures the heat of your fires, the winter’s freezing temperatures and moisture from rain, snow, sleet and ice. As spring brings warmer temperatures, you should be on the lookout for some common signs of chimney masonry damage.

Chimney discoloration

Staining along the outside walls of your chimney can be one of the first signs that your chimney is absorbing and retaining moisture. Generally, the discoloration will show up as white resident, called efflorescence, along the outer walls of your chimney. You also should be on the lookout for rust streaks down the sides of your chimney, a sign that your chimney cap is corroding and wearing down.

Signs of chimney masonry damage to look for - Indianapolis IN - Your Chimney Sweep

Spalling bricks

One of the most obvious signs of masonry water damage comes in the form of spalling bricks. Spalling occurs when moisture makes its way into the porous surfaces of the bricks and freezes, causing the faces of the bricks to crumble away. That break down of chimney bricks can lead to an overall breakdown of your chimney’s structure.

Crumbling mortar

One of the most common masonry repairs comes when mortar joints break down. You’ll notice the mortar crumbling away, leaving gaps in between the bricks. This can be fixed relatively easily with a service called tuckpointing, but if left unchecked, crumbling mortar can cause your chimney to fail.

Shaling flue tiles

If you have a masonry chimney liner, constructed of clay tiles, they can crack and crumble over time, due to the high temperatures of your fireplace and exposure to moisture. A dead giveaway that your chimney flue tiles are shaling will be the presence of pieces of chimney tiles in the bottom of your firebox.

Cracked fireplace masonry

Just like your flue tiles, the bricks of your masonry fireplace can crack or crumble due to heat and moisture. While some small cracks won’t compromise your chimney, eventually cracks will need to be repaired as they expand or become more numerous.

Failing chimney crown

Your chimney crown is the masonry component that surrounds the top of your chimney. Too often, chimney crowns are improperly constructed from mortar, rather than concrete. That leaves them susceptible to cracks and crumbling, which can allow water to make its way into your chimney flue, or allow water to flow down the outer bricks of your chimney and put them at risk for water damage.

Damaged walls and ceilings

While it may not look like a masonry problem, stained walls, peeling wallpaper and sagging ceilings inside your home, along the wall your chimney’s on, can be a sign that water is seeping into your chimney’s masonry. Eventually, that water can make its way into your home’s structure and cause damage to your walls, ceilings and joists.

This spring, we encourage you to take a walk around your chimney and look for signs of potential masonry damage so you have time to have it repaired and addressed before you’re ready for your next fire in the fall. If you notice any signs of masonry damage, call Your Chimney Sweep today! We’ll help you strategize and carry out needed repairs.

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