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What does Chimney Brick “Spalling” mean?

You may have heard the word “spalling” in relation to chimneys. It’s another of the many unusual words that chimney professionals use all the time but that the average person may not be familiar with. FlameMaster Chimney Sweep of Crystola, CO, would like to help you understand what spalling is and how it should be addressed.

Spalling Chimney Brick in Monument, ColoradoHow to spot a spalling brick

A variety of factors can cause the bricks in a chimney to begin to spall. “Spalling” describes bricks that are chipped and flaking away. The problem can be major or minor, depending on the severity of the cause and how long it has been ignored.

What causes brick spalling?

Lightning strikes, severe earthquakes and mighty gale-force winds are all able to cause serious cracking in bricks and lead to them literally falling out of the masonry. In cases of spalling, the most common causes are water intrusion and inferior bricks used to build the chimney. Water can get into bricks in several ways.

Small cracks in the bricks or the mortar between them can allow rain and melting snow to intrude. Once moisture is inside, freeze-thaw cycles will cause the moisture to freeze and expand. This exerts pressure on the bricks and damages them. Damage to the concrete crown at the top of the chimney is another way bricks may take on water.

If bricks of inferior quality were used in the construction of the chimney, it’s not uncommon to see spalling and more extensive brick damage over the years. When bricks are severely damaged, more and more water can get into them and eventually damage other parts of the chimney system. Water can affect the chimney liner, the interior masonry, the fireplace damper, parts of the firebox and adjacent building materials of the home.

How professionals address chimney brick spalling

Major events, such as lightning strikes and earthquakes, can cause immediate brick damage. Spalling is usually more gradual. This means it can be caught early with an annual chimney inspection and quickly repaired.

When spalling is the issue, a chimney inspector will evaluate the masonry as well as other parts of the chimney to determine if collateral damage has occurred. Depending on the severity of the problem, several strategies can be used:

  • Brick replacement to add new, strong bricks to the masonry
  • Tuckpointing to remove decayed mortar between bricks and replace it
  • Chimney rebuilding when large sections of the masonry are affected
  • Chimney crown repair or rebuilding with a proper overhang so water will drain away from the masonry
  • Chimney cap repair or replacement, if this is needed
  • Chimney waterproofing with a vapor-permeable sealant

Your best strategies for a safe, healthy chimney

Keeping your chimney in good shape isn’t difficult when you use three key strategies recommended by every chimney company and fire safety agency in America.

  1. Annual inspections: Inspections by a licensed chimney inspector will alert you to early signs of damage.
  2. Chimney cleaning: Yearly chimney sweeping will greatly reduce the chance of a chimney fire and keep your chimney working efficiently.
  3. Repairs when needed: If any part of a chimney is damaged, it needs to be repaired sooner rather than later.

Chimney and Fireplace Inspections in Colorado Springs, CO

FlameMaster Chimney Sweep provides complete brick repair services as well as chimney sweeping, chimney rebuilding and chimney inspections. Speak with an expert today at (719) 661-3277 or get in touch with our handy contact form.

We serve Crystola, CO, Woodland Park, CO, Colorado Springs, CO, Divide, CO, Manitou Springs, CO, Cripple Creek, CO, Victor, CO, and other local communities.