Closeup of Chimney Bricks Cracking

What Causes Chimney Bricks to Crumble?

Is there anything you can do to prevent chimney damage, or are the causes beyond your control? There are many causes of chimney brick spalling, and some are easier to avoid than others. Read on to learn what’s causing your bricks to crumble and what you can do to resolve it.

Chimney Bricks Experience More Wear Than Other Brick Structures

Your chimney doesn’t have the same protection as your siding, porch, fireplace, and other brick structures on your property. It takes on everything Mother Nature has to offer, from sun rays to harsh winds to precipitation and more. This is why you may notice chimney damage before other brick damage on your property. With proper care and maintenance though, you can keep these issues under control.

Worn Mortar between the Bricks

The mortar between your brick isn’t as durable as the actual bricks. Mortar is porous and absorbent, similar to the grout between your bathroom tile. You can replace the mortar around your bricks without replacing the bricks themselves. This process is known as tuckpointing or repointing, and it could dramatically extend the life of your chimney bricks.

Foundation Issues

Foundation problems are common in Michigan because of the state’s sandy soil content. The ground shifts below your home, which causes gradual settling and shifting. While there are ways to minimize these issues, the fact is that bricks need a stable foundation. Too much movement too quickly could create pressure around both the bricks and the mortar.

Freeze Thaw Cycle

Construction materials expand and contract with weather changes. This is most common in the winter months when those materials repeatedly freeze and thaw. The pressure from this process could lead to brick spalling, and it’s yet another issue Michigan homeowners face.

Improper Construction or Poor-Quality Materials

If your bricks aren’t installed properly, they’re going to wear down faster. This is usually the result of building too fast or not creating the proper foundation to support the masonry. Unfortunately, we see this a lot in newly built homes where the contractors try to cut corners to save time.

Pressure Washing or Sandblasting

Some brick structures can be pressure washed, but you should proceed with caution. Power washing and sand blasting wipe off surface debris on the bricks. These processes can also wear down the bricks and mortar, which eventually leads to brick damage. Alternatively, you could use a soft pressure wash with specialty chemicals to clean the bricks without damaging them.

How to Repair and Protect Chimney Bricks

If you’re dealing with crumbled chimney bricks, it’s time to get an inspection. The inspector will look for the source of the damage and recommend an appropriate repair technique. This may be as simple as replacing the surface mortar, or it may need a more extensive solution.

To protect your chimney in the future, schedule routine brick maintenance. You could consider adding a brick sealant to the structure, but that isn’t ideal for all chimneys. The experts here at N&M Restoration can recommend the best solutions to repair and protect your chimney bricks. Call (586) 350-5824 to get started.