What Causes Your Masonry Chimney Base to Crumble?

The typical chimney takes a lot of abuse from constant weather exposure. Without regular maintenance, it’s only a matter of time before they wear out. Chimney wear and tear isn’t just unsightly; it can compromise its performance and put your family and home at risk. This post examines what causes chimney deterioration, how dangerous it is, and how to prevent it.

Crumbling Chimney Brick in Lees Summit MOWhat Causes Chimney Crumbling?

If you have a masonry chimney, staying on top of annual maintenance and inspections is essential because the damage that leads to crumbling worsens over time and becomes more expensive to fix. Here are the most common causes of chimney deterioration.


Water is a chimney’s worst enemy, especially for people living in areas with heavy rain and snow. Masonry materials like brick and mortar absorb water, which freezes, causing tiny cracks.

Over time, those cracks grow more significant, leading to spalling bricks and loose mortar joints.

Brick Spalling

When the chimney’s bricks’ surface breaks off, it’s called spalling. Spalling typically results from water infiltration that freezes and thaws as temperatures fluctuate in winter. Spalling is dangerous because it weakens the bricks, and if enough of them are compromised, it can weaken the chimney’s structure, leading to complete collapse.

Weak Footing

Sometimes, poor construction can lead to chimneys crumbling. If the footer isn’t deep enough or too thin, it will crack under the chimney’s weight over time. Once it cracks, the chimney becomes unstable, leading to crumbling bricks.

Sinking Foundation

If the foundation sinks, it can cause the chimney to lean, leading to damage. Foundations sink because the soil they’re built on becomes saturated with water, causing it to shift or sink.

How Dangerous is a Damaged Chimney?

Chimney damage isn’t something to take lightly or put off because it poses severe risks to your home and family.

Fire Hazards

According to the [National Fire Protection Association], there were approximately 23,000 chimney fires in the United States in 2018, resulting in ten deaths, 30 injuries, and $125 million in property damage. Although creosote buildup and other obstructions are the primary cause of chimney fires, cracked and crumbling bricks can cause combustible materials to ignite.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

A blocked or damaged chimney can prevent carbon monoxide, a toxic gas produced by combustion, from venting correctly. This can result in dangerous levels of carbon monoxide accumulating in the home, leading to poisoning and even death.

Water Damage

Once bricks and mortar joints crack, water can enter the chimney, worsening the situation. If water gets into your house, it can lead to mold and wood rot. Leaky Chimneys that allow water in can cause many types of damage to your chimney.

Structural Damage

A damaged chimney can compromise the integrity of the entire structure. Cracks and settling can cause the chimney to lean or collapse, posing a danger to the occupants, the roof, and nearby property.

How to Prevent Chimney Crumbling

Despite all that bad news, there’s good news; you can prevent most chimney damage by taking these steps.

Schedule Annual Maintenance & Inspections

Scheduling annual chimney maintenance, cleaning, and inspection by a certified professional is essential for identifying and repairing minor issues before they lead to problems like crumbling and deterioration.

Install a Chimney Cap

Chimney caps prevent water, debris, and animals from entering your chimney and wreaking havoc.

Only Use Seasoned Firewood

Burning firewood with too much moisture creates more smoke, increasing creosote buildup. Creosote is corrosive and highly flammable, so it’s crucial only to burn dry firewood to keep your chimney safe.

Don’t Overload the Fireplace

Overloading the fireplace means adding too much wood or other combustible material like trash to burn at once. This creates excessive heat and smoke, increasing wear and tear on your chimney.

Call the Fluesbrothers

The Fluesbrothers are the go-to chimney service company in Kansas City because we do it all.

Professional Chimney Sweeping in Kansas City KS

Whether it’s chimney sweeping, maintenance, inspection, repairs, installations, or anything else, we’re the area’s most trusted full-service chimney and fireplace contractor.

Our technicians are CSIA-certified professionals and undergo constant training to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and technologies for efficiency and safety. We proudly serve the Kansas City Metro area and beyond. Book an appointment now by calling 913-236-7141 or using our handy contact form to schedule online.