Your chimney is part of your house that you probably don’t give much thought. So, when is the last time you thought about the health of your chimney and whether or not it needs repairs?

Probably never, right?

man on roof inspecting tuckpointing

Chimneys are sturdy, but they still need care now and again, and if it’s been too long since the last time yours got a little TLC, it may be time for a complete chimney rebuild.

How Often Should I Check my Chimney?

In Milwaukee, it’s a good idea to give your chimney an annual check. A great time for this is as summer approaches and the fireplace is starting its season of disuse.

You’ll also want to give it a good once-over after any severe weather, like hurricanes or hail storms.

So, here are the 5 signs to tell if your chimney needs a rebuild.

White Bricks

Water is the worst enemy of pretty much everything in your house. And while bricks may seem immune, even the best masonry will eventually be overcome by water damage.

This kind of damage is called efflorescence, and it’s the result of water seeping into the bricks and pulling the natural salts and minerals to the surface. The water evaporates, leaving the minerals behind.

The white staining washes off easily. Soap and water will usually do the trick. But the damage isn’t so easy to fix. If you notice efflorescence on your chimney, it’s time to call in a professional.

Damaged Crown

Your chimney crown is one of the most vital pieces of masonry on your chimney. It protects the rest of the piece, keeping out weather and water damage.

Unfortunately, like any first line of defense, it tends to take the most damage, and if you don’t keep an eye on it, the damage will spread down, necessitating a complete chimney rebuild.

Crowns can crack or degrade over time. This can be due to shrinking and expansion during changing seasons, or just normal wear and tear over many decades. Either way, once a crown is damaged, it will begin letting in water and the elements.

No Chimney Cap

This isn’t a piece of actual masonry, and it isn’t necessarily “damage” either. Some chimneys just don’t have a chimney cap or haven’t had one for so long that no one knows where the darn thing went in the first place.

Either way, if you haven’t had a chimney cap for some time, it’s likely that your chimney has sustained some damage. The chimney cap acts as a line of defense even before the chimney crown, and if yours isn’t present, you may want to call for an inspection before the damage gets too bad.


Spalling bricks are an obvious sign of chimney damage and the need for a chimney rebuild. Water is the culprit here again since spalling happens when bricks have been saturated with water.

Spalling bricks will chip, deteriorate, crumble, or even pop out of the masonry. If you see this happening on your chimney, call a professional right away.


If water has seeped into the gap between your chimney and flue lining, you may begin to see shaling flue tiles. You’ll notice this without ever going outside since the shaling flue tiles will start to fall into your fireplace.

Do You Need a Chimney Rebuild?

It’s tempting with any house problem to let it be or ignore it, hoping it will go away on its own. After all, chimneys are strong affairs, right?

Left untreated, chimney issues can cause dangerous CO2 buildup or even house fires. If you suspect a problem with your Milwaukee chimney, give us a call today.