Clay, one of the most popular building materials, has for years been extracted from the crust, reshaped, baked and turned into brick or terra cotta masonry. Masonry is the most durable chimney building material, however, it is still vulnerable to damage requiring repairs and maintenance.
A variety of external and internal factors act upon your chimney’s masonry, causing it to structurally weaken, deteriorate or even crumble prematurely. Many of these factors happen regularly and without your knowledge.
What causes chimney wall deterioration?
A host of complex factors weaken your chimney’s masonry. These include:
Expansion and contraction due to both freeze and thermal cycles. These structurally weaken the chimney wall, making it susceptible to cracks, loosening, breaking and even falling off; what is called spalled bricks. This exposes the interior of the wall, allowing water to seep into the chimney.
Heat and corrosive by products from heat that cause chimney fires. Chimney fires do happen with masonry chimneys, and this occurs regardless of the durability of the flue. The high temperatures of burning wood, sometimes clocking 2000F, do melt rear wall mortar, crack the tiles and even cause liners to collapse, severely damaging the outer chimney. In worse scenarios, the cracking tiles and melting mortar provide a pathway for the fire’s flames to reach the inner wood frame of the house.
A single chimney fire may not destroy a home, but the second can raze it to the ground.
Corrosion of the mortar may also allow carbon monoxide from the flames to seep into your home. The health ramifications of this can be dire.
Moisture trapped behind painted masonry and the wall mortar. Mortar is a superb bonding agent which is why it is very ideal for masonry. However, it does keep water. Mildew and mold may grow on it in the inner walls of the chimney, spelling health concerns for inhabitants and loosening the chimney walls.
High pressure sandblasters and pressure sprayers. Though these make cleaning a hands free experience, they do weaken the hard wall exterior, especially at the edges, making water retention a common occurrence.
Wind erosion, birds and climate. Chimneys best stand free in the air. Under heavy wind, birds and strong climate, weak chimney walls crumble, causing irregular structures.
Many homeowners think that water and heat are the only enemies to their chimney walls. In reality, numerous environmental factors, some which you may not even be aware of, are weakening your hearth wall fabric on a daily basis. Timely masonry repairs are instrumental in ensuring your hearth not only stays structurally strong but looking spick and span.
How soon should I repair my masonry structure?
Chimney masonry deterioration occurs exponentially, when bricks at the top of the chimney loosen, those at the bottom get weaker and more susceptible to loosening themselves. If not arrested as soon as possible, chimneys nose dive from bad to worse: bricks wrongly align, the flue becomes un-serviceable and the hearth walls let out excessive heat to the floor as well as other corrosive substances. Timely response to wear and tear is vital.
Which repairs should I consider?
Masonry repairs will depend on the extent of the structure’s deterioration. The repair methods include:
1. Composite patching:
This involves completely replacing the deteriorated mortar that has deteriorated using a special repair mortar that matches the texture, color and physical traits of the original masonry.
2. Dutchman patches:
This involves replacing the smaller areas of deteriorated spalled bricks with new brick that is precisely shaped to fit those areas.
3. Removing and replacing:
The masons can opt to remove the whole chimney wall unit in cases of extensive damage and replace it with a whole new one.
A complex repair involving the reshaping of the deteriorated unit from where it is exactly, without removing any part of it.
Caring for your chimney wall with a specially recommended plan is vital for your fire place’s well being and where erosion occurs, prompt repairing is critical. To have a tailor made plan suited for your specific needs and to have repairs made by qualified and experienced chimney experts, give us a call at Brickliners Masonry and Chimney Services. We are available round the clock to ensure your home is at its absolute best for your family.