The Effects of Crumbly Chimney Masonry
Nothing lasts forever. We often forget that this axiom is as true for chimneys as anything else. Masonry fireplaces are built to last for decades. Over time, they can begin to crumble. Repairing a crumbling chimney can be extremely costly, especially if you wait too long to take action.
Building a masonry fireplace requires a significant amount of skill and time. Carefully placed, fire-rated bricks and mortar must be used to create a chimney strong enough to withstand the high temperatures and caustic chemicals produced by the fire. Without a thorough understanding of fireplace construction, the stack might not exhaust properly or create an efficient fire. Repairing a masonry fireplace can be equally tricky. That’s why it’s best to work with a technician who has been certified by the NFI (National Fireplace Institute).
Many chimney problems are hard to spot without a trained eye. There are three indicators that you can stop when a chimney isn’t structurally sound:
Cracked or Leaning Stack
The most apparent sign its crumbling is a cracked or severely leaning stack. Most old chimneys have a slight curve to them but not a severe lean. If you notice either one of these issues, you should contact a chimney professional immediately! A severely cracked or leaning chimney is a serious risk since it could collapse. When a stack collapses, it often damages the roof. It could also be fatal for anyone nearby.
Have you noticed holes, cracks, or missing bricks on your chimney? This is called chimney spalling. In most cases, this type of deterioration is caused by water damage. Masonry absorbs water unless it’s been waterproofed. If the water inside the brick freezes, thaws and freezes thaws, it begins to weaken. Over time, this freeze-thaw process can weaken bricks and mortar. Another sign of spalling is that the mortar on your chimney will feel soft and crumble when you touch it.
Efflorescence is a powdery white residue on bricks. The white residue is salt deposits that have been pulled out of the bricks when water evaporated. It’s an indicator that your chimney has a water problem. A minor repair to stop water from leaking in may solve the problem.
If it is a sign of long-term water damage, a chimney inspection may uncover internal chimney damage.
Tuckpointing is often the solution to repair crumbling masonry.
It is the name for the process of removing broken pieces of masonry and replacing them. It is the most cost-effective way to repair a masonry chimney since it only requires removing and replacing damaged bricks and mortar. If your chimney has a crack or lean, it may need to be entirely replaced. Fortunately, you don’t have to make that call on your own.
If you notice any one of these issues, set up an inspection by an NFI certified chimney technician! A chimney technician with a trained eye and experience building chimneys will assess the extent of your chimney’s structural issues. They should thoroughly inspect the stack to determine the cause of the problem and its scope before recommending the best solution. The NFI certified chimney technicians on our team are here for you! Give us a call to set up an inspection!