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What to Do About Crumbling Chimney Bricks

Have you noticed some chipping, flaking or crumbling in the bricks of your chimney? Are some of the mortar joints beginning to deteriorate? If you’ve noticed any of this, now is the time to have it addressed before more serious damage occurs. Northeastern Chimney of West Hartford, CT, would like to share a little about what it means when chimney bricks crumble, what can happen because of it, and how to resolve the problem.

chimney brick repairs and tuckpointing in West Hartford CTCommon causes of crumbling bricks

Bricks are strong, but they’re not invincible. Various things can cause damage to them, including:
• Extreme air temperatures and freeze-thaw cycles
• Hail storms
• Lightning
• Earthquakes
• Inferior-quality bricks and mortar used in construction
• Poor construction practices

These and other causes can lead to spalling, a situation where the surfaces of the bricks begin to flake and fall apart. If ignored, bricks can become loose and eventually fall out of the masonry.

Bricks also can be damaged when improperly compressed mortar doesn’t allow for their natural, subtle movement. This can cause cracking and deterioration.
Incoming water through the bricks’ porous surfaces can begin a cycle of ongoing damage that affects just a few bricks or many bricks throughout the chimney structure.

Schedule timely brick repair

Watch for these signs of trouble with your chimney’s bricks and mortar:

White stains (efflorescence) on the masonry: This means water is penetrating the bricks and leeching out salts.

Crumbling mortar joints: This will lead to structural instability.

Bricks with surface abnormalities: Could include cracks, chips, flakes, gaps, missing sections and more.

A chimney that appears to lean to one side: A leaning chimney will not right itself and may eventually collapse.

Brick and mortar debris: If you see any of this on the roof, it means damage exists somewhere in the masonry.

If these issues are allowed to go unchecked, you could eventually end up facing:
• Widespread water damage throughout the masonry structure
• A chimney collapse
• Damage to the chimney liner, fireplace damper and firebox
• Rotting in walls, ceilings, flooring and the attic
• Roof damage
• Dangerous mold growth that may spread to other parts of the home

Fixing damaged chimney bricks

Repairing the crumbling or spalling bricks of your chimney is not a job for an amateur or novice. Only a licensed, trained chimney mason should undertake this project. If the work isn’t done correctly with the right tools and materials, you could end up with worse problems than you started with.

There are several strategies commonly used to address damaged chimney bricks and mortar.

Brick replacement: If select bricks are compromised, your mason can replace just those bricks with top-quality new bricks in the same color as those around them.

Tuckpointing: When the mortar that holds the bricks together begins to crumble, a process called tuckpointing removes the decayed mortar and replaces it.

Chimney rebuilding in Bristol CTChimney rebuilding: In extreme cases, your mason can rebuild parts of the chimney or the entire structure.

Chimney crown repair: Although not technically a part of the masonry, the concrete chimney crown at the top of the chimney is prone to cracking. It can be patched, sealed or rebuilt.

Chimney sealing: After all repair and rebuilding work is finished, your chimney masonry should be sprayed with a powerful water sealant to keep water off the surfaces.

Call your Connecticut chimney repair experts

Northeastern Chimney of West Hartford is ready to help with all your chimney brick issues and other chimney troubles. Speak with a chimney expert today at (860) 233-5770 or get in touch with our handy contact form.

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