While it’s true that well-built masonry work can last well beyond your lifetime, it’s important to note that, unless it’s properly cared for, brick and mortar will break down and need repairs. Damaged masonry isn’t a good look and it can lead to expensive damage throughout your home. Take precautions from the start, so you aren’t left shelling out cash for issues that could have been avoided.
Water, Your Masonry & the Freeze/Thaw Process
The biggest danger to your brick and mortar chimney is water. We can’t stress enough the importance of keeping water out of your chimney so that it remains dry. A big reason for this is because of a natural process called the freeze/thaw process. Once this cycle starts, it can be quite expensive to stop it.
What is the freeze/thaw process?
Bricks, and especially the mortar between your bricks, is porous. When it gets wet, water can collect in the tiny air pockets within it. And when moisture gets into those pockets the universal solvent we call water begins to weaken the mortar.
When cold weather rolls around the tiny bits of water trapped in your mortar will freeze. When water freezes, it naturally expands. The size of the water will literally get bigger, putting pressure on the bricks and making any gaps even bigger. New cracks and pockets will form, as well.
Eventually, temperatures will rise again and the iced water will melt. When it does, the water finds its way into the new pockets and cracks, where it will begin its deterioration work again.
And when temps go below freezing again as they’re inevitably bound to do here in Memphis? The process begins once more, and further cracking and damage will occur. Then, later on, warm weather melts the ice, water makes its way into the new cracks and on and on until you have a very weak structure that is just waiting to crumble and fall.
We Can Help Prevent Damage
Fortunately, it isn’t too late to prevent your masonry from falling prey to the freeze/thaw process. Here are things you can do to make sure that your chimney stays healthy and dry.
🧊 Inspect and take care of your chimney crown or chase cover
Located on top of your brick and mortar chimney is a concrete slab called a crown. On a prefabricated metal chimney there is a metal top called a chase cover. The job of a chimney crown or a chase cover is to prevent water from pooling on top of your chimney by directing it away.
Your chimney crown or chase cover should contain no cracks or divots and they should be built with a slope so that water runs down and away from the chimney. There should be a drip edge that operates like the gutters on your roof directing water down and away from the chimney.
If there is any damage at all to your chimney crown or chase cover it should be addressed. It’s an important part of your chimney’s defense against the freeze/thaw process and repairing cracks and indentations is cheaper than replacing an entire chimney. Madewell Masonry & Chimney is equipped to make sure your chimney crown or chase cover is working the way it’s supposed to.
🧊 Inspect and take care of your chimney flashing
The metal seal between your chimney and your roof is called flashing. Much like a chimney crown, flashing is intended to keep rain water and snow melt away from your chimney. In this case, it is protecting the inside of your house as well, guarding the gap between your chimney and your roof. If it is damaged, it can allow water into your roof where it can rot and damage your rafters.
If your flashing is loose, damaged, or rusted, call us in to repair or replace it right away.
🧊 Inspect and take care of your chimney cap
The chimney cap sits directly over your chimney flue and acts like an umbrella for your chimney. If you don’t have a chimney cap over each flue opening, rain water and melted snow can get directly into your chimney and funnel down its entirety. Investing in a good chimney cap is one of the most inexpensive ways to prevent future water damage to your chimney.
🧊 Repair deteriorated mortar on your chimney
When you see mortar beginning to crumble don’t hesitate to call in a professional to replace it. Tuckpointing is the term used for removing old mortar and installing new mortar. The sooner deterioration is spotted and properly repaired by an expert, the less it will cost you in the end.
🧊 Waterproof your chimney
There are many products available that seal your brick and mortar and prevent moisture from being absorbed into your chimney. This is a job best done by professionals, as store bought sealants are often not vapor-permeable – meaning your chimney won’t be able to breathe or vent out any pre-absorbed moisture. Count on us for a job done right.
We’re Dedicated to Your Satisfaction
Madewell Masonry & Chimney is dedicated to making sure our customers have a safer and more enjoyable experience with their chimneys and fireplaces. We are equipped and trained to handle all of your chimney and fireplace needs. If you’re experiencing issues, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Call 901-443-1036 or reach out online to schedule services with us.