When built correctly, chimneys are meant to be fortresses—standing high and tall above your home, protecting your property and family by safely venting toxic gases created by your fireplace or woodstove. But the truth is that even the best chimneys will eventually begin to show signs of age and will require maintenance.
One of the things that the technicians at Fire Safe Chimney Sweep see most frequently go wrong with chimneys in the North Carolina communities we service is damage to the exterior masonry. When the face of a brick “pops” off this is known as spalling, and if you let your chimney brick continue to spall it will eventually weaken the entire structure and allow for profound water damage.
What Causes Spalling?
If you think about it there is perhaps no part of your home under more stress than your chimney. Not only is the chimney exposed to the elements on all four sides but it also must withstand extreme temperatures, a good deal of expansion and contraction, and the effects of corrosive gases. There are any number of things that can go wrong with chimney brick and mortar, and spalling is one of them. Spalling is caused by moisture—no huge surprise there, as moisture has long been the chimney’s No. 1 enemy.
A chimney that is not waterproofed will eventually begin to absorb water, whereby the chimney brick and mortar will act as a sponge. When moisture gets into the “pores” of your chimney brick, you will begin to see crumbling, cracking, and spalling. In some cases bricks will fall out entirely. With proper preventative measures, this does not have to be the case.
How Can I Prevent Spalling?
Spalling is actually quite easy to prevent. Hire a professional chimney technician to apply a chimney waterproofing solution to your chimney and you can count on having a waterproofed chimney for about a decade. We recommend using a water repellant called ChimneySaver. Of course, other measures may need to be taken to also keep water of your chimney—such as installation of a chimney cap or top-sealing damper. And we always recommend annual chimney inspections and sweepings to ensure that your chimney is kept in a safe and efficient condition.
Have questions about spalling or any other concerns about your chimney? Contact Fire Safe Chimney Sweep today.