The term spalling refers to the crumbling, cracking, or flaking of brick or other types of masonry. You may have noticed it looks like the face of your bricks or rocks are starting to chip away over time. That is spalling and the cause is probably more sinister than you realize. Let’s look at the reason spalling occurs and what you can do to prevent it.
How Does Spalling Happen?
Water is a very damaging element. It always takes the path of least resistance, and erodes dirt, sand, and rock as it goes. A chimney without a cap is susceptible to serious water damage on the inside as well as the outside. Water from rain and melting snow can enter the chimney through the flue and rust the damper and other internal parts as well as seep between the flue and masonry to damage from within. As water makes its way to the surface by way of natural evaporation, it cracks and breaks masonry from the inside. This creates weakness and spalling.
Three things must be done in order to prevent spalling. You must install a chimney cap to protect the top of the chimney, make sure the chimney crown is properly angled, and apply water repellent every couple of years. Choose a water repellent that is designed to penetrate the surface and protect from the inside out. It should be breathable so water vapor can escape, but it cannot penetrate.
Repairing Spalling Damage
The repair process is often extensive when spalling is present. Affected bricks need to be removed and replaced. A spalling chimney crown often means that the crown needs to be replaced entirely. The amount of repairs required is completely dependent on the amount of damage done. You may get by with replacing a few bricks, or you may need a complete chimney rebuild.
We always try to stress the importance of preventative maintenance and a yearly inspection. You wouldn’t drive your car for years without an oil change, so don’t make your chimney work for years without maintenance. Consider it an active appliance that needs preventative maintenance; because that’s exactly what it is.
Local Chimney Services
Finding a local Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) Certified chimney is as easy as going to the website CSIA.org and typing in your zip code. The CSIA is a regulatory group that offers special ongoing training and certification options for chimney sweeps who wish to participate. Membership and certification isn’t a requirement in order to work as a chimney sweep in the Philadelphia area.
Lou Curley’s Chimney Service is located in Drexel Hill and we service the surrounding counties and townships. You can count on us for all types of chimney repair, maintenance, inspection, and cleaning needs. We’re also certified to work on dryer vent hoses and dryer vents. Call us any time at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a consultation, cleaning, or inspection.