Sometimes you only have to look down to notice that your brick chimney is falling into disrepair. Bricks, and parts of bricks and mortar, can loosen and fall off your roof down into your yard. You need to take immediate action as soon as you notice something like this happening before more damage occurs over the coming winter and your chimney ends up needing to be rebuilt. The chimney needs to be inspected to see what type of damage is occurring and the extent of that damage. Here is how you would inspect your chimney.
Climb Up to the Chimney
Inspecting your chimney from the ground is very difficult at best and, in some cases, impossible. You have to get up on the roof so you can examine the chimney from the base of the roof line to the top of the chimney crown. If you have a low-angled roof, this isn't that hard to do; but if you have to get up on a steep roof, you'll need to take safety, precautions like wearing a safety harness. Make sure the ladder is properly situated at an angle of one foot back from the house for every four feet rise in the ladder before you climb up it.
Inspecting the Crown
A lot of damage occurs to a chimney when the crown cracks and water drifts down through the cracks and into the brick and mortar. Look for any signs of cracking or splitting on the crown. Also inspect along the seam where the crown abuts the flue sticking out of the chimney. The caulking deteriorates over time and water can leak in along the seam.
Check the face of the bricks to see if there is a white powdery substance on the surface. The white powder is a sign that a lot of moisture is getting into the bricks. During the winter, when the moisture turns to ice and expands, the ice can cause the bricks to break apart (and fall down into your yard). Look for bricks that are cracking and splitting apart.
Examine all the mortar around the chimney. You are looking for areas where the wind and weather have caused the mortar to deteriorate to the point where it no longer holds the bricks in place like it should. The bricks can then become dislodged and drop to the ground.
Falling debris from your brick chimney is a sign that your chimney needs some attention. The sooner you address any problems, the more likely it is that you can prevent costly repairs later on. If you don't want to do an inspection yourself, then call a professional masonry expert to do it for you.