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What Causes Chimney Brick Damage? (AKA Brick Spalling)

Do the bricks on your chimney look like they could fall off at any minute? Has your disheveled chimney destroyed your curb appeal? If so, you may be the victim of chimney brick damage, otherwise known as brick spalling. This is a somewhat common occurrence, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Read on to learn about what causes brick spalling and what you can do to fix it. 

What Is Chimney Brick Spalling?

Spalling refers to bricks that have started to chip, crack or crumble. This is typical in older homes where the bricks have experienced decades of weather exposure. Brick spalling on a chimney is more than just an eyesore. It’s a safety hazard. The bricks need to be repaired or replaced promptly to minimize risks. 

Common Causes of Chimney Brick Damage

Here are some of the most common reasons chimney bricks crumble.

  • Old Age: Constant exposure to precipitation, freezing, thawing, UV rays and other elements will wear down bricks and mortar over time. Tuckpointing (mortar replacement) can minimize these effects, but any material has the potential to wear away with time.
  • Freezing and Thawing: The freeze thaw cycle causes most construction materials to expand and contract. Bricks are designed to withstand this, but they still experience intense pressure shifts. Chimneys are more vulnerable than other brick structures because they are heated from within and they stand taller than the rest of the home.
  • Foundation Settling: As the ground below your foundation shifts, so do the bricks above. If you’ve noticed signs of foundation damage, consult with a foundation repair company for solutions.
  • Water Damage: Water erodes bricks and mortar. If there are cracks within the bricks, water can seep in and do significantly more damage. You could consider brick sealants to keep the water away, but that’s not recommended for all situations.
  • Improper Construction or Materials: If the bricks were not installed properly or the bricklayers used low-quality materials, spalling may occur faster than it should.
  • Lightning: While lightning is the least likely cause of brick spalling, it is something to keep in mind after storm damage.

How to Fix Brick Spalling on a Chimney

If you’ve noticed brick spalling on your chimney or other parts of your home, get a professional brick inspection as quickly as possible. The damage will not get better on its own, and it could put your family at risk. At minimum, do not use your fireplace until the bricks can be addressed.

It’s The Brick Guys offers brick inspections and brick spalling repair services. We specialize in chimney masonry repair and color-matched brick replacement. Contact us at (833) 627-4257 to schedule your chimney inspection.