When it comes to home repairs, many homeowners are tempted to tackle them on their own. While repainting the siding or cleaning out clogged gutters may be simple enough, other repairs should only be handled by an experienced professional. Brick repairs, especially chimney brick repairs, fall into this category, but how can a homeowner tell that it’s time to call in an expert? Here are a few signs to look for when trying to determine if a chimney needs a little TLC.
The Bricks Are Worn
Chimneys are one of the most exposed areas of the home. Rain, sleet, ice, and changing weather conditions hit this protrusion first. As a result, the brickwork often weathers more quickly on these areas than anywhere else in the home. If the bricks look worn or it’s been a while since an experienced masonry tuckpointing professional looked at the chimney, it’s time to schedule an appointment.
The Mortar Is Crumbling
The mortar holds the brickwork together, creating the supportive structure for the fireplace. However, it doesn’t last forever. Like the bricks themselves, the mortar can be damaged by weather and time. If the mortar between the bricks is crumbling away or missing in spots, a tuckpointing expert will be able to fix the damage.
There’s Rust on the Damper
Chimneys are supposed to keep moisture out of the home, and a rusted damper is a clear indication that moisture is building up. Though rust is a visible sign of moisture seeping in through the chimney, it may not be the only sign. Try using the damper. If the hinge is difficult to use or the damper won’t close all the way, there’s a good chance that rust has built up in the mechanism. The longer moisture sits in the chimney, the more damage it can do.
The Bricks Are Flaking Away
Any time a brick loses part of its surface, it’s time to call a repair expert. The problem is known as spalling and happens when moisture builds up in the brick and forces part of the material to expand. Once this happens, the surface of the bricks may flake away. Not only does this damage the appearance of the brickwork, but it also weakens the integrity of the structure and may lead to worse damage if left untreated.
Bubbling or Loose Paint Inside the Home
Not all signs of damage are visible from outside the home. Some damage will be readily visible inside the living room or next to the fireplace. If the paint looks like it’s bubbling up or has an ugly brown stain or discoloration, there’s a good chance it’s caused by water damage. While this suggests ruptured pipes or interior leaks, it can be caused by moisture buildup inside the brickwork. Worst of all, the water damage can lead to mold and mildew growth in the walls as well as wood rot.
Ignoring damage to the brick and mortar only leads to more severe problems. Get your chimney repaired by a tuckpointing expert immediately.