Some Common Chimney Repair Issues

The fireplace is an essential home feature that adds comfort, ambiance, and warmth to the living space. It also helps keep toxic gases like carbon monoxide out of the house. Moisture is the chimney’s worst enemy. It can cause many issues that can be costly to repair.

Stains are a sign of moisture problems, and white staining on the chimney is known as efflorescence. A professional Chimney Repair Charleston SC company can remove these stains and keep the chimney structurally sound.

chimney repair

Worn Mortar Joints

A chimney is the unsung hero of your home, bringing you warmth, comfort, and that unmistakable cozy ambiance. Like any home feature, though, it needs to be carefully maintained and inspected regularly so that it can continue to do its job safely. While some chimney problems don’t give you any clues that something is wrong, other issues may escalate into major repairs or even a house fire if left neglected.

One of the most common issues that can lead to moisture damage and the subsequent need for costly repairs is deteriorating mortar joints. Mortar is a mixture that holds the bricks of a chimney together, but over time, exposure to snow, ice, and water causes it to erode. When this occurs, the bricks can start to fall apart and your chimney could be at risk of structural collapse.

Another major cause of chimney failure is water leaks. Moisture penetration is the number one chimney problem that can threaten your home and, if ignored, can lead to serious water damage and mold accumulation. Chimneys are particularly susceptible to moisture damage because they are exposed to the elements daily, so it’s important to keep up with regular maintenance and inspections to avoid moisture issues.

Other common chimney problems that can lead to moisture problems include blocked chimney flues, cracks in the crown, and missing or deteriorating flashing. If you notice any of these issues, reach out to your local chimney professionals for a professional repair. Minor cracks in bricks that aren’t loose can be repaired with brush-applied crack filler, while cracked or crumbling mortar joints need to be replaced through a process called tuckpointing.

Cracked Flashing

Flashing is a metal or rubber material that prevents water from seeping around chimneys, roof vents, and skylights. It can wear out from the elements, or it may crack or fall off.

A flashing repair should always begin with a thorough inspection of the area. Even a small crack or tear in the flashing can lead to a leak in a short amount of time. The best way to prevent these issues is with routine flashing inspections, especially after a severe storm.

To make a flashing repair, you will first need to remove any caulk that has begun to degrade. Then you will need to remove any old mortar with a hammer and plugging chisel. Afterward, you will need to re-point the joint with a high-quality masonry caulk.

In some cases, you will need to use a flashing patch kit. This can be purchased from any home improvement store. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly apply the patch kit to the damaged area of the flashing.

Other times you will need to replace the flashing entirely. This can be done with a self-adhesive metal-backed flashing strip that is not fitted into the mortar joints of brick walls or chimney stacks.

This type of flashing is usually installed at the base of a chimney where it meets the roof, and it is often covered with cap flashing when finished. If you have a dormer, it will probably need step flashing, which is squares of flashing that overlap like fish scales and climb up the side of the chimney following the slope of the roof. Saddle flashing is sometimes used at the peak of a dormer to direct water and debris away from the step flashing below it.


When a fireplace is working well, it’s a source of warmth, comfort, and coziness on chilly evenings. But like any structure, it can run into problems that may be costly or even dangerous if they’re not noticed and addressed right away.

The masonry of the chimney is very durable, but it can still soak up too much moisture over time, leading to deterioration and damage. A sign of too much moisture in the chimney is a chalk-like mineral called efflorescence, which appears as white stains on the chimney’s face and walls. If left untreated, efflorescence can lead to a more serious problem known as spalling, where the bricks of the chimney crumble.

Moisture in the chimney can also cause a buildup of creosote, which is a highly flammable byproduct of burning wood and poses a fire risk. It can also hinder ideal air ventilation and promote a damp environment that leads to the growth of mold.

Chimney crowns are a very important part of stone and masonry chimneys, as they seal the chimney from its flue liner to the masonry wall. If the chimney crown is damaged, it can allow rainwater to get inside the chimney and cause severe water damage.

If the flashing around the chimney is damaged, it can also allow rainwater to leak into the home and cause water damage to ceilings in the attic. It’s a good idea to check the area of the attic where the chimney is located regularly for signs of leaking flashing. If you find it, a chimney repair specialist can replace the flashing quickly and inexpensively to avoid costly water damage. A professional can also apply a waterproof sealant to prevent the problem from returning.

Bird Nests

A warm fireplace adds to the coziness of a home, but only if it works correctly. As time goes by, chimneys can develop a variety of issues that affect their functionality and endanger your family’s safety. It is important to perform regular maintenance and inspections on your chimney and schedule annual cleanings and sweepings. This ensures that your fireplace will provide warmth and comfortable conversation for years to come.

Bird nests are often hard to miss, especially those of grebes in large ponds or gravel pits (their eggs are incubated half-submerged), swallows building their vast platforms of sticks in the treetops, or house martins plastering familiar semi-circular cups under roof eaves. But even a nest in the fork of a branch, on a ledge of a wall, or a chimney flue opening can become an obstruction to your chimney’s flow.

The most common bird nest is a cup nest, with walls made of twigs and grass stems lined with moss, hair, threads from caterpillars or spider webs, mud or saliva, and feathers or fur from other birds. This material provides excellent insulation, allowing the nest to retain heat and protect the chicks inside from predators.

These materials also create an obstacle to the natural updraft that moves smoke and toxic gases out of your chimney. If there is a blockage or an improperly constructed chimney, smoke and deadly carbon monoxide can back up into your home. Luckily, obstructions and blockages can be prevented with a properly functioning chimney cap, proper chimney height, and frequent inspections by a qualified Brick + Ember Outfitters chimney sweep.

Mysterious Leaks

Chimneys may seem big, strong, and indestructible but they aren’t immune to moisture damage. Moisture causes stains, bubbling of paint or wallpaper, and weakening of the underlying brick. It can also lead to rot and mold. If you have a leaky chimney it can cause water damage to the ceilings, walls, and foundation of your home. Luckily, it’s usually easy to spot if your chimney is leaking. Look for stains on the ceiling, the crinkled appearance of wallpaper, or rust on metal parts such as fireplace doors, damper, and chimney caps.

Chimney leaks are often caused by faulty flashing (the layered metal sheets that are at the base of your chimney where it meets your roof). Flashing can be prone to rust because it’s exposed to extreme weather elements. It’s also a common problem in newer homes where the chimney has been constructed too close to the wood framing of the house. The flashing has a sealant that helps protect it, but over time that sealant can wear away. If this is the case a roofing company can be called to replace the flashing and counter flashing and provide a new waterproof seal.

Another reason for leaks is that the chimney crown, a 2” to 3” thick concrete or mortar slab poured at a slight slope on top of the chimney can be cracked or broken. This allows water to flow into the chimney, and it’s especially difficult if the crown has an uneven surface or is too high or too low.