Call Ozark Stove & Chimney for All Masonry Repair Services: A Local Company You Can Trust
When the weather begins to turn and the leaves begin to fall, few things are more comforting than grabbing a cozy blanket, locating the TV remote, and lighting a nice fire. However, in order to benefit from your chimney system, it’s important to take regular care of it. Even if your chimney is made of brick, it is not indestructible and if not annually and proactively maintained, might require repair services before you can enjoy your fireplace this burning season.
Fortunately for homeowners in Greene County, MO, Benton County, AR, and a long list of areas surrounding, Ozark Stove & Chimney is just a phone call away. No matter the question or concern, we’re here to help make sure your masonry functions as it should so you can enjoy it all season long. Call us at 417-201-6585 or schedule a service right here online!
What Is a Masonry Chimney?
By definition, “masonry” is essentially the laying of individual units (like bricks) with mortar to create a structure. Thus, a masonry chimney is simply another term to describe a chimney constructed of brick. While we don’t have an exact time frame as to when masonry chimneys were first used in the home, we do know that they’ve been in use for a long time – several centuries in fact!
Obviously, over the years a lot has changed – at least in terms of technology and improved functionality, but a lot has remained the same too. Brick masonry chimneys are often an attractive option for homebuyers and owners because they’re sturdy, durable, resistant to high temperatures (if conditioned and treated properly), and provide that clean, classic look.
However, don’t conflate “strong and durable” with “no work required” because that simply is not true. Just like the rest of the appliances in your home, upkeep and regular maintenance is crucial to making sure everything runs smoothly. The best way to do this is to schedule your annual inspection with a professional chimney service and maintenance company like Ozark Stove and Chimney.
Contact us to get started so when the time comes to start using your fireplace or stove regularly, you don’t have anything standing between you and ultimate relaxation.
What is the lifespan of a masonry chimney?
Well, this really just depends. If you keep a regular chimney cleaning schedule and are on top of things when your chimney appears to be experiencing any technical difficulties, your masonry can hold up for several decades – a lifetime, even. After all, brick is made to last.
However, if chimney care is low on your list of priorities (or not on it at all…), you’ll likely notice it start to deteriorate over time. Bricks can start to flake and loosen, mortar becomes crumbly and may fall out in pieces, and you’ll probably begin to notice strange odors that weren’t there before. All of these signs require prompt attention to ensure your chimney remains as safe as possible. Plus, the sooner you address the issues requiring maintenance or repair, the more money you’ll save in the long run.
What Masonry Chimney Repair Services Does Ozark Stove and Chimney Offer?
Homeowners in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas grappling with chimney repair needs are in luck because Ozark Stove & Chimney is proud to offer an extensive list of repair services. From brick replacement to waterproofing, tuckpointing services to overall masonry chimney repair, our services address both interior and exterior chimney repairs in order to keep your house in its best condition.
If your firebox is drafty, smoky, or simply ready for an upgrade, we can install a PriorFire System. These are considered a retrofit, and they are designed to fit snugly within your existing masonry fireplace. Constructed of lightweight fire brick, this system is an excellent alternative to traditional masonry repairs because it acquires less heat within the walls of the firebox – and thus distributes more heat into the living space.
Another plus? This interior firebox repair option can be installed in one day, cutting down on the time you need to have available for a technician to come out to service your chimney.
Tuckpointing is the process of replacing the old, crumbly mortar with new, fresh mortar and a clean line called fillet – this is what creates the crisp distinction seen in most brickwork. Commonly confused with “repointing” or “brick pointing,” all of these techniques serve the purpose of reinforcing your masonry work.
While bricks provide the sturdy structure of a chimney system, without the mortar fusing them together, their durability is meaningless. Moreover, when those joints between the bricks begin to deteriorate, the entire framework suffers. Any kind of tuckpointing (be it repointing or traditional) will reinforce the entire structure, allowing for it to stand the test of time and ensuring that there are no cracks or holes for debris and moisture to get trapped within. The good news is that tuckpointing services should keep your chimney protected for several decades, so once you schedule the repair, you don’t have to worry about it again for quite some time.
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 100 times – while bricks are very durable and built to withstand extensive wear and tear, they are not altogether unbreakable. Be it old age, an external accident, or weather damage, bricks can sometimes just fall apart.
In these cases, it is easiest to just remove the damaged and broken bricks and replace them with newer ones. Depending on the number of bricks that would need to be replaced, it often just makes sense to replace all of them, but we’re always happy to come out and take a look at your chimney to determine what works best for each case.
We’ve gone over the havoc a little moisture can wreak on a masonry chimney, but we haven’t discussed waterproofing in explicit detail yet. While the flashing (if correctly placed) helps protect against water leaking in between the roof and the chimney, it does nothing for the exposed part of the chimney itself. Ensuring that your brickwork is well-prepped to withstand rain, snow, and any other moisture will ultimately guarantee that your chimney lasts.
A seemingly simple process, proper waterproofing requires the knowledge and expertise of an industry professional to know what products provide an adequate barrier against water and other weather conditions. Here at Ozark Stove and Chimney, our certified chimney sweeps are equipped with the latest updates in the industry and know just what sprays and sealants contain the proper ratio of the four components that make up its formula: resistance to air and wind, resistance to water, overall durability, and vapor permeability.
Every part of your chimney – both internal and external – plays a huge role in its operational effectiveness. The crown (the shelf-like slab of concrete on top of the chimney) is no different.
Acting as a barrier between the brick and mortar and any natural elements, the crown helps to protect the top of the system from water penetration. If your chimney crown is cracked, crumbling, or just altogether not there, it’s important to get that checked out and addressed properly in order to prevent the system from extreme water damage.
No matter where it is found in or on your home, if your stucco has seen better days, we can repair it. Cracks? Holes? Weird gaps? Or, perhaps it’s just looking run down and raggedy? Our team can chip it off, patch it up, or completely reapply it based on your preferences and your home’s needs.
Have a question about any of our services? Looking to schedule your annual chimney cleaning? Or, are you having trouble locating the specific service you think you need? Don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’d love to hear from you and learn how we can help.
What Causes Most Chimney Deterioration?
Aside from general wear and tear, there are many other causes of overall brick chimney damage. Depending on the specific issue, these deterioration results can vary. The following are some of the most common causes of chimney masonry damage.
- Moisture/Water Damage. Arguably the most destructive element – the one that wreaks the most havoc and requires overall chimney repair – is the presence of moisture. Brick is naturally porous and thus absorbs any water it is exposed to, eventually causing the material to break down and crumble over time. Especially if we’re having a particularly heavy rain season, we recommend regular chimney examinations to ensure that excessive amounts of water have not permeated the system.
- Fire/Excessive heat. It seems counterintuitive, since a chimney’s main purpose is to release the smoke from a curated fire, but over time, excessive heat can wear on the system and cause the brickwork to break down. Also, while chimneys are built to withstand high smoke temperatures, they are not meant to come into contact with actual fire. Contact with flames can not only cause significant damage to the masonry, but can also expose your family to dangerous gases created from a chimney fire.
- Hidden Defects. As with any other human-made structure, brick chimneys are susceptible to human error. Neglect or accidents during the installation process can contribute, over time, to a defective chimney – even if it might not be obvious at first. For instance, if the bricks are not laid correctly and there are holes and cracks between the mortar joints, excess moisture can get trapped in between the bricks and cause a significant issue both for the chimney system and the safety of your home and family.
- Ineffective or Defective Liner. Regardless of the type of home heating appliance or chimney you have in your home, a liner is equally vital in protecting your home from accidental fires or noxious gases as it is in preventing damage to your chimney. If your chimney’s liner is damaged – or you learn that you don’t have one at all – the bricks of your chimney are susceptible to the harsh heat, smoke, and fumes of everyday fires, which is not only dangerous but also causes breakdowns.
- General Lack of Necessary Elements. Contrary to the sleek, simplistic appearance of a brick chimney, building one properly requires a lot of careful work and a handful of necessary components. If your chimney is missing a flue liner, the flashing has some gaps, or your crown is beginning to crack, the system will likely experience difficulties sooner rather than later. All the intricacies that make up a chimney serve the purpose of ensuring your masonry does its job well. And if any of these elements are damaged or missing, the chimney will start to break down.
Why Are My Chimney Bricks Crumbling?
For as sturdy and durable as the material is, brick is also highly permeable. Be it moisture in the air caused by humidity or an extensive downpour, if not treated and weathered appropriately, bricks will absorb incredibly high volumes of water. Actually, on average just one brick can absorb between a pound to a pound and a half of water.
Just to put this into perspective, imagine a brick chimney on a one and a half story house. If the chimney is constructed of roughly 1,200 bricks, that structure alone could be holding onto 150 gallons of water if it got completely drenched. This volume of absorbed water weighs in at a half ton, or 1000 pounds. Just because you can’t see the water weight doesn’t mean it’s not there – that weight is equivalent to a full grown bull – all concentrated in one structure.
So, how does all of this contribute to flaking and crumbling bricks? Well, whenever your chimney gets wet, if it has not been properly waterproofed, the pores in the brickwork absorb as much water as they can. Even though it might not be visible, over time, the water gets trapped and will begin to break down the material from the inside out. Troublesome enough already, this issue is exacerbated by the freeze/thaw process and the seasonal cycles of temperature change.
What Is the Freeze/Thaw Process?
A phrase used to describe water’s life cycle amidst the natural temperature changes, the freeze/thaw process can greatly affect an untreated chimney. We know from elementary science classes and our own lived experiences that water has three forms: liquid, solid (ice), and gas (water vapor).
What happens, then, if a chimney has absorbed any amount of water before outside temperatures drop below freezing? As you may have guessed, the small amounts of water contained within the bricks will freeze and naturally expand, thus creating room for itself where there once was none.
This expansion creates tension and shifts bricks, loosening the mortar joints and creating gaps, cracks, and spaces where more water, moisture, insects, small animals, and other debris can get in and continue to weaken your system.
Eventually, when temperatures begin to rise and spring has sprung, the frozen water pockets will thaw and the contained water will continue to seep wherever it can, weakening your masonry with every drop. It’s important to remember that all of this could go unnoticed – especially if your brick chimney was recently built and/or you’ve just moved into this house and are not entirely familiar with the system yet. This is yet another reason why we strongly encourage regular annual inspections with a professional chimney technician.
Can a Brick Chimney Be Repaired?
Absolutely. Ultimately, the state of damage will determine which services are required to reinstate your masonry to a suitable level of functionality. However, rest assured that, no matter the damage, we’ll make sure to restore your chimney to its prime operating condition.
Can your rebuild part of a chimney?
It may come as a surprise, but just because one section of your masonry is suffering from water damage or other deterioration, it does not mean the whole system is compromised and thus must be repaired. (This does not mean, however, that you can use the system just because only part of it is damaged.)
It is very possible for chimney technicians to go in and only replace a section of bricks that are spalling or touch up some mortar in another. If the whole structure does not require rebuilding or repair, luckily it does not have to be rebuilt or repaired – three cheers for saving money!
Can You Resurface a Brick Chimney?
Yes, you can – though, the type will be determined by the sustained damage.
For instance, if your masonry utilizes a terra cotta chimney liner and has some relatively minor cracks and separations from regular use and old age, it could be a candidate for HeatShield® Liner Repair where we apply a specific sealant to the inside of the liner.
However, if the damage is more extensive – perhaps if your chimney has endured a fire – your chimney liner repair might look more like a replacement with an alternative, such as stainless steel. Just know that, regardless, your system will not be rendered forever useless and decorative if your chimney liner suffers from deterioration and other damages.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Chimney?
Honestly, that is the million dollar question. And we’d love to answer it confidently for you, but we just can’t. Until someone from our team has been out to take a look at your chimney and any accumulated damage, there really is no way for us to know what you can expect in terms of cost.
However, we will reiterate: in order for homeowners to get the most “bang for your buck” and avoid costly repair services, we seriously suggest scheduling an chimney inspection each and every year (even if you don’t use your chimney system that often or at all) to save yourself the most time and money in the long run.
That said, sometimes, life happens and damage occurs. In order to get an accurate estimate for your brick chimney repair costs, as well as the services/amount of work you need done, give us a call or book online to schedule an appointment. We’re proud to serve our community and provide the best and most affordable prices for all of our masonry chimney repair services.
When Is the Best Time of Year for Chimney Repairs?
Considering the burning season is generally in the fall and winter, we usually recommend scheduling repair and maintenance services in the spring and summer to ensure you’ll get the best and fullest use out of your chimney system come the cold weather.
However, sometimes things don’t work out the way we intend and, as such, it is always a possibility that you find yourself well into winter before something with your chimney goes awry. That being said, if at any point you notice your fireplace or stove chimney is acting strangely or different from how it used to, stop using your system and schedule a time for one of our certified chimney sweeps to come diagnose the problem(s).
As much as we’d love to reassure you or give you the go-ahead on continuing to utilize a chimney system that’s acting up, we cannot. The reality is that, regardless of the issue, an improperly functioning chimney and home heating appliance could pose serious threats to your home and family.
Give Us a Call Or Book Online To Schedule Your Masonry Repairs Today!
No matter what type of chimney or home heating system you have, Ozark Stove & Chimney is here to assist you. If you are a homeowner in Northwest Arkansas or Southwest Missouri, we’re the place to call for all masonry chimney repair questions, concerns, and services.
Give us a call at 417-201-6585 or book online to learn more and find out why our customers keep coming back.