If you are noticing falling or missing bricks from your chimney’s exterior, your home may be experiencing a problem called spalling. Spalling is a common issue that can plague any type of brickwork from masonry chimneys to retaining walls and more. It is easily noticeable when small cracks begin to lead to bigger cracks as the brick surface deteriorates. To reduce the effects of spalling on your home, it is important to know not only its causes but also how to fix it.
Why It Happens
Spalling occurs in brickwork when moisture is allowed to penetrate it. The climate in which you live, your home’s architecture, and the exterior’s condition can all be factors in the impact moisture can have on the brickwork. Here are some things you should now about why spalling occurs and what conditions perpetuate it:
- The use of salvaged bricks in initial construction can make them more likely to experience a number of issues including spalling.
- Colder climates are more prone to spalling as absorbed water is more likely to freeze and then expand.
- Leaks in other areas of the exterior including gutters, windows, and roofs are easy entryways for moisture.
- Sandblasters and pressure washers can damage the brick’s hardened exterior making it more prone to water penetration.
How to Fix It
When your chimney’s brickwork begins to show signs of deterioration such as cracking or crumbling, it is vital to resolve the problem quickly before it leads to larger problems. Hire an experienced sweep to inspect the chimney flue and brickwork to identify any troublesome areas. If addressed in the beginning stages, the technician can usually seal the bricks and crown and add a chimney cap for future protection. When the problem has been allowed to fester, the solution can be more complicated and time-consuming. Bricks beyond repair may need to be replaced or even a new crown may need to be installed.
The key to successfully fixing a spalling problem is resolving the moisture issues causing it to occur in the first place. Applying a masonry sealant can help prevent further troubles as well as installing a quality chimney cap. Yearly chimney inspections are also important for early detection and the monitoring of trouble spots.
Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
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