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Spalling Bricks: Not a Chimney Trick

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Many of us admire the beauty and durability of brick on our homes. Brick has been traditionally known for its durability; however, while masonry is considered low maintenance, it’s definitely not no-maintenance. Time and the elements can cause them to crumble and/or flake, a condition commonly referred to as spalling. Brick chimneys, mailboxes, steps and walkways are constantly exposed to the elements and require preventative maintenance to ensure their lasting beauty. Being unaware of the need for or neglecting this maintenance can lead to costly repairs down the road.

My brickwork is starting to deteriorate…

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Spalling is caused when masonry absorbs too much moisture and is subjected to the ever-dreaded freeze/thaw cycles. So what exactly do spalling bricks look like? They have cracks and breaks in the surface and often large, crater-shaped chips as well. These bricks either need to be repaired or replaced, depending on how advanced the damage is. Another common indicator of spalling is the loss of surface materials (which commonly results in debris that’s found on your lawn, driveway, roof or gutters).

Make it stop already!

Spalling often occurs around chimneys and brick windowsills (although any brickwork is susceptible). The best way to avoid spalling brick is to eliminate the moisture component altogether. If the area around your chimney crown is cracked or the cap itself is damaged or defective, this will allow water to seep into the brickwork below. Open mortar joints and/or cracks in the mortar can also lead to water penetration in and around the bricks.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today…

In Colorado we’re used to temperatures that run the gamut from frosty winters to toasty summers and everything in between. If you have a problem with spalling brick, there’s no time to waste! Don’t let the problem get worse by waiting. Sometimes all that’s needed is for a few bricks to be patched or replaced, caulking of cracks, and waterproofing. Unfortunately, if the spalling and cracking continues, the structure will eventually need to be torn down and rebuilt.

As a homeowner, you should be aware that your brickwork’s beauty needs to be protected by appropriate preventive maintenance. If these steps are taken, you’ll enjoy the beauty and elegance your brickwork provides for years to come. Give the trusted professionals at Bulldog Chimney Sweeps a call to ensure that you get the most value for your chimney maintenance dollar. Don’t leave your family’s well being to chance!