Masonry damage is an ever-present concern if you own a chimney, but this is not always a big drain on your budget. If you can spot the signs of damage early, you could keep your repair budget under control. Some signs of damage are easy to miss, especially if you don’t make the effort to have the structure maintained. A chimney sweep can find damage quickly, but you can also learn about what to look for.

Improper Brickwork

The quality of the bricks influences the life of the chimney and the type of damage you might find. Some types of bricks are more suitable for colder climates. If the bricks used in your chimney are too porous, you will have chimney damage at a much quicker rate. If the person building the chimney lacks experience, there is a possibility of the wrong type of bricks being used. You may be able to notice differences in the bricks used in the chimney. Some of them may hold up well, while some may show signs of cracks or crumbling.


This is one type of damage that is easy to spot, and it is fairly common, especially in areas with long winters. It happens when water gets below the surface of the masonry and then freezes in winter. Ice below the surface will weaken it to the point where it starts to flake off. You will see that chunks of the exterior are missing, and you may notice some flakes of masonry on the roof around the chimney.

Repairing the Chimney

Repairing the chimney is not always an easy task, even when there is minor spalling. The chimney technician may determine that the spalling indicates weakness in the structure, or poor brick or mortar work. Extensive mortar work may be necessary, but this will help to protect the structure Using a waterproof sealant after the repairs are done will help to keep the chimney in good condition. If the bricks show signs of damage, more extensive work may be necessary. The technician may have to rebuild a section of the chimney or replace some of the bricks. An inspection will determine whether the bricks are suitable for the climate in your area.

Report even the smallest cracks in your chimney to the chimney technician. You should make every effort to deal with damage in the warmer months. Schedule an annual inspection to stay ahead of possible repairs and keep your costs low. Lou Curley’s Chimney Service is a local, family-owned and operated company with two CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps to better serve homeowners along the Main Line. Give us a call at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a chimney cleaning or inspection. Also follow us on Facebook for even more great information about keeping your chimney safe for years to come.