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Brick Spalling: Should You Worry About Your Chimney?

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If the bricks in your chimney look extremely faded and chipped, it could be experiencing spalling. Brick spalling occurs in chimneys damaged by moisture or water. The damage can be moderate or severe, depending on the amount of moisture inside the bricks. Learn how spalling affects your chimney and how you can stop, treat, and prevent it below.

What Exactly Is Spalling?

Brick chimneys can break down from normal wear and tear over the years. However, some chimneys can also experience spalling. Spalling develops when water penetrates the mortar and bricks in your chimney. The bricks will expand when they become wet and contract when they dry out. Eventually, the surfaces of the bricks crumble and chip.

Spalling may also affect chimney bricks in the winter. Cold air can make the bricks expand from freezing and contract from thawing. If the bricks in your chimney expand and contract too much, they spall. 

Spalling bricks can also fall away from the chimney over time. The empty spaces allow additional water to penetrate the structures lying beneath the bricks. Moisture can also spread down the chimney and enter the flue and fireplace. You might notice some spalling in your fireplace's bricks if this occurs. Unless you don't intend to use your chimney, or fireplace, again in the future, it's a good idea that you address the spalling in it right away.

How Do You Treat a Spalling Chimney?

The spalling in your chimney can deteriorate beyond normal repairs. Simply reinforcing the bricks with new mortar and bricks might not be enough to secure your chimney. In this case, hire a masonry contractor to replace or restore the bricks in your chimney. A masonry contractor will need to examine the overall condition of your chimney, flue, and fireplace before they begin work.

You want to find out why your chimney spalled in the first place. There could be a major issue in the flashing and structures supporting your chimney, or there could be something awry in your chimney itself. Flashing can break loose or degrade from moisture problems over time. The opening in your chimney can also allow water to enter the bricks and mortar. 

Once a contractor notes the exact cause of the spalling in your chimney, they'll fix the issues and restore your chimney so that it becomes safe enough to use later on.

For additional information about spalling and how it damages your chimney, consult a chimney restoration contractor or masonry specialist today.