As winter crawls to a stop, and spring weather arrives, you may notice some new masonry issues. Winter weather can cause damage to the masonry through the freeze/thaw cycle. When water fills cracks and spaces in the masonry, it freezes as temperatures drop, and expands. As the water expands, it breaks apart the masonry more. Then the chimney warms, the water melts and runs further into the damaged masonry. This process repeats all winter long, until the bricks and mortar flakes and crumbles.

Signs and Symptoms

Depending on how serious the spalling is, the pieces of masonry may fall onto the roof, and may even fall onto the yard or sidewalks below. This is a dangerous occurrence. It can injure people and damage parts of the house and roof. The best way to stop it is to prevent it completely. If your bricks are flaking, though, we can help!


The flaking and crumbling of masonry is called spalling. It can be dangerous for your home and your family, but it can also lead to damage to the system—allowing water inside the chimney to damage the parts. In order to repair spalling masonry, we at RMR, specialize in a process called tuckpointing. A technician removes the grind out of the old mortar approximately 1/4 of an inch and then replaces it by tucking it into the ground out/ void areas of mortar.  It’s important that an experienced professional complete this job because the new mortar must match the old in color, consistency, and strength. If this is done improperly, it can actually weaken the structure.

Prevent Spalling

You can prevent spalling from happening, simply by scheduling the routine maintenance that is necessary. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) both recommend regular chimney sweeps and annual inspections in order for a safe and efficient chimney. These service appointments ensure your chimney is functioning properly and all parts are in good shape. At RMR we repair spalling caused by water damage, but we also prevent water damage by offering waterproofing services. We can apply ChimneySaver®, a water-repellent that prevents the water from entering the masonry but allows it to escape without harm to the vertical brick masonry of the chimney. Having your masonry waterproofed can even keep water out if there are minor cracks and voids in the masonry.

You can avoid flaking bricks, crumbling mortar, and the cost of repairs, by scheduling professional services today. Damaged masonry can lead to a drop in efficiency, and an increased fire risk. Don’t let your chimney system become a hazard. Don’t let your bricks become an eyesore.

Call RMR today at 847-290-1883, and let us take care of your flaking bricks!