Chimney inspections are helpful, but wear and tear is inevitable. Weather events and other outdoor factors deteriorate and damage masonry over time, and some repairs are more costly than others. Learn the signs of chimney problems and the differences in repointing vs. rebuilding brick chimneys.
Chimneys are an important aspect of your home’s structure, and if yours is experiencing problems, your fireplace isn’t the only concern. Check out these signs of chimney problems to protect your home:
Routinely check chimney masonry. It’s normal to find wearing masonry over time—after all, chimneys are outside and exposed to four seasons of weather. But severe cracking or growing space between bricks need quick repair. Moisture leaks are at risk with damaged mortar joints, which can expand in cold temperatures, distorting the flow of smoke and heat. In severe cases, damaged mortar joints can cause chimney collapse.
Schedule chimney repair with a contractor to avoid further damage if you notice cracked or deteriorated mortar joints.
Damaged mortar joints are a common issue that can lead to costly damages. One of those by-products is excessive moisture. White stains around the outside of your chimney indicate efflorescence, an internal moisture build-up. Mold forms quickly as a result of efflorescence, causing deterioration. Avoid efflorescence by scheduling a chimney inspection.
Leaking is another sign of chimney problems. Most chimneys have a secure cap. If you don’t have one, install a capping device for year-round protection. If you discover water in your firebox and have a secure cap, leaking has become an issue. Below are the causes of chimney leaks:
- Cracked Chimney Crown
- Damaged Chimney Masonry
- Faulty Roof Flashing
- Fireplace Odors
- Discolored Ceilings, Walls
Chimney crowns are an additional support mechanism protecting against external factors. Deterioration happens over time, but major cracks or damages need repair. Rain, snow, branches, and animals will enter your chimney if the crown is exposed.
Flashing is the thin metal protecting the corners and mortar joints of your chimney. Over time, flashing can loosen or fall off, allowing leaking. If not corrected immediately, water damage will cause excessive moisture and mold to deteriorate a chimney.
Scheduling regular chimney inspections avoid a disaster scenario of rebuilding a chimney. Repairing small fixes prevent minor issues from becoming major damage. If you need chimney repairs, you have a few options. Let’s run through repointing vs. rebuilding brick chimneys.
Considering chimneys are exposed to all weather conditions, some damage over time is unavoidable. Luckily, not all damages need a complete rebuild, especially with regular inspections. Chimney repointing is your simple, cost-effective repair.
Chimney repointing is the process of repairing gaps in mortar joints between individual brick or stone. Like most of the problems we’ve discussed, decay leads to crumbling, deterioration, and leaks in chimneys. Repointing reinforces internal brick, eliminating water infiltration.
Waterproofing is another measure property owners can benefit from installing. Depending on your location, waterproofing could only be effective for a year. Great for protection from strong storms and snow, waterproofing’s composition quickly decays from sun and heat.
If the repair process is past chimney repointing, switch your attention to rebuilding a chimney. Rebuilding happens after years of neglect, failure to inspect, or severe weather damage. Repointing could also be dangerous to a structure if rebuilding a chimney is the only option.
A partial chimney rebuild is an option through contractors. If smaller parts of your chimney have substantial damage, you can rebuild sections like the chimney crown.
Severe roofline and mortar joint flashing damage exposes a structure to leaks and water damage. Ask your contractor about roofline-up rebuilds, which can be more efficient than a complete rebuild.
A complete chimney rebuild is necessary when the structure is in danger of collapsing. Fireplaces, roofing, gutters, and anything below are in danger if a chimney collapses. Listed below are a couple of scenarios requiring a complete rebuild.
Are you noticing chimney brick cracks? Accumulated rain and snowfall cause moisture deterioration, and the bricks’ freezing and thawing result in spalling. During the winter, frozen water within bricks will expand, causing cracking. The repeated freezing and thawing eventually causes flaking off in bricks. You need a complete rebuild if spalling is past repair on the outside bricks.
Based on your property’s structure, it is common for chimneys to lean to a degree. Schedule a chimney inspection if leaning becomes concerning. Leaning is an immediate concern for rebuilding if signs of chimney damage are mounting. Chimney collapse is not only a threat to your roofing, but to anyone or anything below.
Now that we’ve covered repointing vs. rebuilding brick chimney, let’s check out one more alternative strategy.
You may have heard about tuckpointing if you’re on top of chimney inspections and maintenance. Rather than focusing on damage repair, tuckpointing removes old mortar joints, replacing them with new mortar that matches the color of the brick. Tuckpointing is a restoration technique, opposed to repair, and adds thin layers of support called filets.
Don’t wait any longer—let us find minor damages in your chimney before they become costly. For three generations, Approved Home Improvement has served hundreds of clients in the St. Louis area. Contact us to begin chimney inspection and repair.