So, you’re driving through the countryside or taking a stroll through a neighborhood of beautiful houses. While doing so, you see a strong, picturesque chimney on the outside of a stately, old home. The structure seems like it would last for generations! However, it’s important to realize that all things take a beating from the effects of weathering, including your masonry chimney. Keep an eye out for some of the tell-tale signs of wear and tear so that you can stop it before you need a costly chimney rebuild.

Burning a Fire

The very act of burning a fire in your fireplace can cause your mortar to break down. explains that creosote is formed when you burn wood in your fireplace. The particles in the smoke rise up your chimney and cause this sticky, black or brown substance that is highly flammable. When sparks come up your chimney, it can ignite that creosote and cause a chimney fire. Plus, if you have a gas-heating appliance, you are still at risk! This is because your appliance is vented through the chimney. The acids can cause a break-down in the mortar of your chimney, and that can cause your chimney to sustain structural damage. The best way to notice signs of this? Have your chimney inspected and cleaned on an annual basis by a CSIA certified professional.

Mortar Joints

You probably don’t think of the terminology much, but you also have mortar joints on your chimney. There are spaces between the bricks of your chimney, and these spaces are filled with mortar. Ideally, there shouldn’t be any gaps or missing mortar in these spaces. When the mortar in the mortar joints starts to deteriorate, it becomes more absorbent and weaker. This can cause structural damage to your chimney. Your CSIA certified chimney specialist can take care of this with a process called tuckpointing, or ‘tucking’ mortar back in between the bricks. Even though you can look up ways to do this job yourself, it does require special tools in order to get the job done right. Again, trust your chimney inspector to examine the condition of your mortar and recommend repairs if necessary.


Believe it or not, one of the most damaging influences on your brick and mortar chimney (or stone and mortar or block and mortar chimney) is precipitation. Precipitation can cause the mortar of your chimney to break down and crack. When this happens, it can cause leaks to occur in your chimney, along your roof, and into your home. You should be on the lookout for common signs of mortar damage. These include spalling (cracking, flaking, or peeling mortar or bricks), peeling and rotting wallpaper on the walls by your fireplace. If you see these signs, you should be sure to call the CSIA certified technicians at Chimney Doctors of Colorado!


Your best defense against damaged mortar is your annual chimney inspection and cleaning. Be sure to give Chimney Doctors of Colorado a call and set up an appointment today!