Brick Chimney Problems

Written by jennifer blair Google
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Brick Chimney Problems
Deterioration of the bricks and joints is the most common chimney problem that homeowners encounter. (brick chimney image by Radoslav Lazarov from

A brick chimney can give a home a traditional, classic look that many homeowners enjoy. However, a brick chimney requires a great deal of maintenance to keep it in good condition. On some occasions, your chimney may experience a problem that affects its appearance or structural integrity. These issues should be addressed as quickly as possible to ensure that they do not develop into more serious concerns.

Deterioration of Bricks and Mortar Joints

Over time, the bricks and mortar joints in most chimneys begin to deteriorate. Unfortunately, chimney deterioration is a natural process due to exposure to the elements, such as rain, snow, ice and winds. These elements can impact the chimney from all directions, so deterioration is often inevitable. In addition, deterioration may occur as a result of the cold external temperatures causing the bricks to contract while the warm temperatures from inside the fireplace cause it to expand. Movement occurs as the bricks shift back and forth, which may lead to deterioration. To help prevent deterioration, see that the chimney's crown, liner and rain cap are installed properly and in good condition. Get your chimney inspected regularly as well so you can have problems fixed as early as possible.

Spalling Bricks

In some cases, you may notice that the surface layer of the bricks in your chimney have begun to flake off. This type of deterioration is known as spalling and typically occurs as the result of moisture in the bricks freezing and thawing. The bricks in the chimney may become saturated with moisture from rain or snow, and the water inside the bricks often freezes during the winter months. The frozen water inside the brick expands slightly and the brick begins to crack. The bricks freeze and thaw repeatedly, continuing the process until the front of the brick begins to flake off. To prevent spalling, the bricks used on the outside of a chimney are usually harder and less likely to absorb moisture. However, in some cases, a softer brick is accidentally placed on the outside where it is vulnerable to moisture issues. A brick chimney may also experience spalling if a severe problem with water intrusion occurs.

Water Leaks From Beneath Chimney Clean-Out Door

On some occasions, you may notice water leaking from beneath your chimney clean-out door or base. One of the main reasons for a leak in this area is that the chimney does not have a crown or cap installed, so water from rain, snow or ice drips down to the base. A leak may also occur if there is condensation on the chimney walls, which is usually the result of insufficient drafting. The underground section of the chimney may also experience a leak, and, if it is does not have proper waterproofing installed, the leak can make its way up to the base of the chimney.

Leaning Chimney

You may become very concerned if you observe that your brick chimney has begun to lean to one side, and you should be since this is one of the most serious issues that a chimney may experience. Leaning typically indicates that a collapse is eminent, which can be especially dangerous if it occurs when you are burning a fire. At the first signs of leaning in your chimney, contact a chimney mason immediately so he may begin repairs.

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