Three Early Signs You Need a Chimney Repair

Chicago chimney repair

Failure to address early signs of damage can result in more expensive repairs.

Harsh Chicago winters can take a toll on your chimney. The best way to avoid a costly brick chimney repair is to watch for early signs of deterioration. Inspect the brick, mortar, flashing and caulking of your chimney annually.  Here are three early signs that your chimney may need repair

1. Cracks in the chimney crown

Cracks in the chimney crown are one of the leading causes of leaking problems with a masonry chimney. Designed to divert water from the top of the chimney, the crown is sometimes incorrectly constructed of mortar which is vulnerable to cracking when exposed to freezing and thawing.   A small crack will quickly enlarge when water fills it, as it expands and contracts during freeze and thaw cycles. Replacing or repairing the crown is a relatively minor repair. The crown should be constructed with cast-in-place concrete, precast concrete or stone.

2. Cracks in the mortar

While bricks have a lifespan of 100 years or more, mortar has a much shorter life.  On a chimney, mortar can deteriorate faster because it is exposed on all sides to the wind, rain and the freeze and thaw cycles of Chicago winters. Removing the mortar and tuckpointing the areas affected is a minor repair.

3. Efflorescence on the brick

Efflorescence is a sign that water is penetrating the brick, leaving behind salt stains. When water gets between the flue and the structural masonry, this can cause efflorescence in the brick, and eventually spalling. Water penetrating the brick can also freeze and thaw, sometimes causing the chimney crown to loosen.

As unpleasant as it is to be facing a chimney repair, building owners are smart to address the problem sooner, rather than later. Left unchecked, a small crack could eventually cause structural damage to the chimney and a complete chimney rebuild may be required.  In addition to the chimney repair itself, there can also be residual damage to your home or building in the form of water damage or mold.

After a thorough inspection from the roof, an experienced masonry or tuckpointing contractor can find the source of the problem and propose a solution to these and any other problems with the chimney’s masonry construction. Protect your investment by hiring a fully bonded and insured contractor with a long history of customer satisfaction.

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About the Owner


John Gallagher

John Gallagher learned the craft of tuckpointing while in his late teens. His father, a first generation Irish immigrant and construction worker, encouraged his son’s entrepreneurial spirit. John earned a business degree from Loras College, and soon afterward he founded Shamrock Tuckpointing.

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