The condition of your chimney is particularly important when it comes to roof health. Curb appeal, the safety of your building, and the overall value of your building all rest on the condition of your chimney.
If your brick chimney is crumbling and needs a repair, you should handle it right away, as more time passes the more damage will be.
It is important that your repair work is done exactly as the city code requires, otherwise you are going to have even more work ahead of you.
This article is designed to help you learn why your chimney is crumbling, how to prevent it in the future, and the best way to deal with it when it does happen.
Information, as always, is your best tool.
Crumbling brick chimney repair – What Causes Brick to Crumble
Exterior bricks are often exposed to the elements. This can mean that the water can be absorbed into the cracks and then freeze, causing the brick itself to crack.
It can be more common in poorly made bricks as they are less likely to be handled incorrectly during the creation process.
There is also a huge difference in façade brick and whole brick. Brick facades are thinner and have less bulk which means there is less room for the expanding of the brick itself.
Here are a few other common issues with brick chimneys:
When It is not the bricks fault
Even the best quality brick can fail. Most of the time it is due to the mortar used to hold the brick together.
Mortar is made of concrete, lime, and sand. It must be made exactly right. If it is too thick it can dry out and crack. If it is too thin, the brick will not stay in place.
The fact that it is very porous means that it can hold water. The temperature change that comes with the seasons can also mean the swell and contracting of the mortar.
This not only causes cracking, but it can also cause crumbling as the mortar denigrates.
The absolute best way to prevent crumbling is to do a weather seal on the outside of your brick. This will keep the mortar from absorbing water.
The expansion caused by water absorption can be one of the most damaging of all the problems.
You will still have the expanding and contraction with the weather, but this is natural. You will even find it in wood.
However, when water is absorbed, it can create a decomposition of the mortar. The sand can wash away when the water runs out or upon contraction.
During the cold months, water can turn to ice which can destroy both brick and mortar.
As soon as your chimney on the roof is repaired, you will want to have it weather treated with a seal that will allow the water to run off it completely rather than be soaked in.
This will save you time and money while increasing the life of your brick chimney.
It is not always done automatically so you will want to make sure you tell your local chimney contractor that you want it done.
How to decide if your brick chimney needs repair
If you have your chimney maintained regularly, either by a contractor or on your own, then you will know exactly when to have it fixed.
Faulty chimneys are the cause of sixty house fires per day. The cracks can hold a buildup of creosote.
This creosote can ignite with one simple spark. It can be made worse with water.
Visually looking up at your chimney is not enough. Of course, if your chimney is tilting, bricks are falling off, or you can see cracks from the ground, then you know it needs to be repaired.
Not all repairs are that obvious. You will want to have it inspected seasonally. You will also want to have it cleaned thoroughly so that you can see what needs to be done prior to your first fire in your fireplace.
It is also a good idea to have your chimney inspected for animal nests. Birds can do a lot more damage than you might think.
They can chip away at bricks and mortar to make room for their nest. Squirrels looking for somewhere to store their food can also do unseen damage.
The Chimney Repair – DIY
It is completely possible for you to do minor repairs to your crumbling brick chimney yourself.
You will need to make sure that your roof can hold you before you climb on, safety first. Then you can use a chisel to break away the old mortar.
Sliding out a single brick is easy once you break the old mortar off and away. Then simply slide out the broken brick. Replacing the mortar is not hard.
It is time consuming. You will need to have to use a chisel to remove all the old mortar. Then you can use a trowel to smooth the new mortar in place.
Finally, you can slip the new brick into place. It is especially important that you replace each broken brick, remove all crumbling mortar, and replace it with fire proof brick and mortar.
Broken Chimney Repair – When You need a contractor
There are times when you should not do the work yourself. These are times when it is dangerous or when the damage to your chimney is unknown.
If you are just buying a property, have the chimney inspected and cleaned. If you can see that there are more bad bricks than good ones or that all the mortar is crumbling and unable to hold the bricks in place, it is best to go ahead and let a contractor come in and do the work.
There are benefits to allowing a contractor to do the work:
- • You will get a warranty.
- • You will be able to get a contract for maintaining it as well as repair it.
- • You can be sure that any animal debris will be properly removed as well.
Your chimney is one place where you can be sure to increase the value of your home.
You will never regret the choice of repairing your crumbling brick chimney and to make sure your family and property are safe.