Chimney Sweep

Signs That Your Chimney Needs Repair

As the seasons change, it is important to keep an eye out for signs that your chimney may need repair. Even minor damage can cause major problems down the road if left unattended.

White spots on the bricks of your chimney are a common early warning sign. These spots are called efflorescence and indicate a moisture problem. Contact Chimney Repair Baltimore now!

Brick walls and chimneys are durable materials, but if the mortar joints between them become damaged, their overall structural integrity will be compromised. Water seepage, erosion and seasonal expansion and contraction all contribute to eroding mortar joints. When this happens, it creates a gap between the bricks that allows moisture to enter and cause damage. Eventually, this damage will spread from the joints to the individual bricks themselves, resulting in loose or crumbling bricks. Damaged mortar joints should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration of the brick structure.

The first step to repairing damaged mortar is to clean the area thoroughly. Use a wire brush to remove any dirt or debris that is stuck in the mortar joints. Next, mix the new mortar. It is important to match the color of the existing mortar when mixing. Use a trowel to apply the new mortar to the joint, pressing it firmly and smoothing out the surface with your pointing tool or finger. After the new mortar has been applied, let it dry for 24 hours before applying a sealant or paint to the surface.

If the damage to your mortar is minor, it may be possible to repair it with a caulk gun. Choose a mortar crack repair caulk that has a sanded acrylic formula that adheres to brick, block, stone and concrete surfaces. It is available in a wide variety of colors to match the texture and color of the existing mortar. The caulk also comes with a square applicator tip designed to smooth the mortar during application.

If you have more serious damage, it is necessary to perform a thorough brick tuckpointing job. This is a detailed process that involves stripping out the old mortar, then cleaning and repairing the masonry with fresh mortar. It is important to hire a professional mason who has the proper tools and knowledge to do this work correctly. Before you begin, make sure the blade of your tuck-pointing trowel fits into the mortar joint. It is also critical to mist the brick wall with a hose until it is damp and starts to drip. This is necessary because dry brick will suck the moisture out of the new mortar, preventing it from curing properly.

Loose Bricks

Loose bricks are a common problem in outdoor structures, such as walls, garden walls, and chimneys. They occur most frequently in areas exposed to the elements, like external walls or brick steps, because of fluctuations in temperature that cause the mortar to expand and contract.

This deterioration can lead to loose or falling bricks, especially if the mortar is damaged or weakened by water penetration. If the mortar is not repaired or replaced, the structure will eventually collapse. In addition, a cracked or crumbling brick can create a hazardous environment for people and animals. This type of structural failure can be a health and safety hazard, but it is easy to fix with proper maintenance.

One of the most dangerous problems associated with brick and mortar deterioration is chimney fires. Cracks in the interior chimney flue wall can allow creosote to build up inside the cracks, which could catch fire when a spark hits it. Chimney fires can be extremely damaging to the structure of your home, and they often require professional repair or replacement to prevent further damage.

Chimneys are designed so that each brick supports the others, so if one or more of the bricks begin to fail, the entire chimney can become compromised and at risk of collapse. This is why it is important to have any spalling bricks fixed as soon as possible.

A reputable chimney sweep can inspect the area and recommend the best course of action to restore your chimney. Typically, the damaged bricks are removed and replaced with new mortar. Before the mortar is poured, the area is thoroughly cleaned of any debris and dirt. This is a critical step, as any dirt left behind could further erode the mortar or cause more damage to the surrounding bricks.

After the bricks are removed, a professional can prepare the area by cleaning it and mixing a batch of mortar to match the existing color. The new mortar is then pressed into place and misted to help it set. After the mortar is dry, the brick can be viewed for any signs of alignment issues or damage and repaired if necessary.


The chimney is exposed to the elements on a daily basis, making it vulnerable to rust. This corrosion leads to cracks, leaks and other serious problems that can be quite expensive to repair. Regular chimney maintenance can prevent this problem by ensuring proper ventilation, as well as cleaning creosote buildup and other toxic combustible deposits. A professional chimney sweep can help ensure your home is safe and rust-free by performing annual inspections and cleanings.

Chimney gaps are another common problem that should be repaired as soon as possible. These gaps are a prime spot for water ingress, which can cause serious damage to the chimney and your home. A professional masonry company can repair these gaps by sealing them with mortar.

Over time, brick chimneys develop spalling bricks that require tuck-pointing repairs. This process involves removing the damaged bricks and replacing them with new ones to restore the chimney’s structure. Chimney tuck-pointing also includes reinforcing the chimney with metal strips to prevent further deterioration.

The flue liner carries the fumes from wood, gas, or oil fires out of the fireplace and into the outdoors. It’s important to keep this liner in good condition, as any leaking can lead to toxic carbon monoxide exposure that is dangerous to your health. Fortunately, the flue liner can be repaired by replacing the damaged portions of it with stainless steel or clay chimney liners.

Besides the flue, a chimney should have chimney dampers that can open and close to regulate airflow. The dampers can become damaged due to wear and tear or from water infiltration, which can cause the fireplace to overheat. Chimney damper repairs can save homeowners a considerable amount of money over the long term.

A chimney is a complex system, which is why it should only be inspected and serviced by a certified, licensed, and insured masonry professional. You should choose a professional with years of experience and excellent customer ratings. You can find a qualified professional in your area by using the online rating and review site Angi. This site allows you to compare quotes from different pros based on their customer service, pricing, quality, timeliness, and responsiveness.

Water Damage

Whether from the repeated freeze-thaw cycles of winter or the constant flow of rain against masonry chimneys, water damage can cause significant deterioration to bricks, mortar joints and other masonry materials. Water will naturally find a path of least resistance, and if your chimney is experiencing leaks it can easily move through the flue liner and into walls, ceilings, and other parts of your home. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye out for the signs of chimney leaks. These include water stains, musty odors, and crumbling bricks or mortar.

One of the most common causes of chimney leaks is a worn-out flashing. The flashing is the sheet metal that provides waterproofing at the point where your roof meets the chimney. Flashing is often prone to rust and may not be properly installed, leading to leaks into the attic, roof deck, and the chimney itself. A professional chimney sweep will replace or repair the flashing, using a high-heat mortar that can withstand heat as well as moisture.

Another way moisture can cause damage to masonry is by creating spalling. This happens when the water enters the brick structure and erodes its surface, leaving behind cracks and crumbles. This type of damage is not only unsightly, but it can also lead to serious masonry problems like structural instability and crumbling interior walls.

Water can also cause deterioration of metal components like the chimney cap and flue liner, if not removed and cleaned regularly. If left unchecked, this deterioration can lead to cracks in the flue liner, which could allow dangerous creosote to seep into your home and cause other health and safety issues. A professional chimney service can clean and install a new flue liner and provide necessary waterproofing services to prevent a costly chimney leak.

Chimney leaks are a common problem, but they can be prevented with regular inspections and timely repairs. Be sure to look for the signs of chimney damage, such as deteriorating bricks and mortar, moldy odors, rusted metalwork, and damp insulation. By catching these issues early and addressing them promptly, you can extend the life of your chimney and protect the rest of your home from damage.