Crumbly Chimney Masonry and How to Prevent Spalling
Masonry chimneys start as sturdy structures that signal the presence of a cozy fireplace inside. Unfortunately, harsh outdoor elements have a destructive effect on the highly porous bricks. Even with chimneys’ built-in features that help to keep moisture from invading the masonry, the failure of different chimney components is common. Without routine chimney maintenance, water gets into masonry systems. Crumbly chimney masonry is caused by spalling, and it is proof of the long-term effect of moisture intrusion.
Spalling is something that occurs over a course of time, and the process begins when water enters the masonry.
The water might get in because of:
- A cracked chimney crown,
- Deteriorating mortar,
- Faulty flashing, or for
- Various other reasons.
Once the moisture is inside the masonry, the water expands and contracts during the freezing and thawing cycles of winter.
The movement of the water also causes destructive movement in the bricks. When the brick face begins to pop and flake off, the process called “spalling” has begun. If you ever see bits of masonry debris around the chimney on your roof or the ground below, it is evidence of spalling. And it is essential to schedule masonry repair.
If chimney repairs are not made, the bricks will continue to deteriorate. Eventually, the chimney will start to lean, which can be dangerous. The weight of a chimney is substantial, and a complete chimney collapse can happen suddenly.
Tuckpointing or a Complete Chimney Rebuild?
The otherwise drastic measures needed for chimney repair can be completely minimized by catching problems early. Chimney inspections are recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and all other leading fire safety experts in the U.S., but the inspections have benefits that go beyond preventing fires. You can also save “a ton” of money—quite literally. On one far side of the moisture-in-masonry scale, you could get by with tuckpointing, a preventative measure; and on the other end, you need a “ton of bricks” and a total chimney rebuild.
On average, about 25 years after a masonry chimney is built, the mortar begins to wear down and deteriorate. If you are fortunate enough to catch the beginning stages of mortar damage, the money you can save on repairs is significant. Schedule a procedure known as “tuckpointing” if moisture hasn’t yet entered the masonry system. The old mortar is removed and new mortar is added. When tuckpointing is done by a chimney expert, the chimney is restored structurally and also looks as good as new.
A Total Chimney Rebuild Needed
If, on the other hand, moisture enters the masonry in one way or another and nothing is done, the entire masonry system is subjected to moisture intrusion. Spalling eventually occurs and a chimney collapse is imminent. Associated costs of emergency repairs are likely higher than what it costs for many years of expert chimney inspections and routine maintenance services.
Preventative Maintenance: Waterproofing
Keeping an eye on the condition of your chimney is important, but you can go the extra mile in damage prevention with waterproofing. Schedule a chimney professional to apply a waterproofing solution that’s made specifically for chimneys. In that way, your chimney will have an added layer of protection against moisture. Before the application of waterproofing material, however, it is essential to have a chimney expert first verify that there is currently no moisture within the masonry.
Contact Chimney Solutions Today
The chimney professionals at Chimney Solutions are CSIA-certified, which means they have qualifications from the industry’s premier training program. Located in Alpharetta GA, Chimney Solutions is trusted throughout the greater Atlanta area. Call us today at 770-691-6707 to schedule repairs for your crumbly chimney, set up a chimney inspection, and for all of your chimney and fireplace needs.