Indianapolis, Indiana is known for its southern hospitality, delicious barbecue, and great music. But earlier this year, the city broke a new record, and this time it wasn’t for being on the Billboard Top 100 List.

In February, the city made news when it received 4 inches of rain in one day! The epic downpour caused road and school closures due to widespread flooding concerns. These weather conditions are so rare in Indianapolis that they only occur once every 7 years.

And while temperatures in this part of Indiana are generally pretty mild, winter temperatures can drop on average to 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold temperatures combined with rain can create the “perfect storm” of wintry weather, which can cause some major damage to your chimney system. Therefore, it’s important to recognize any signs of damage to your property, so that repairs can be made quickly.

Understanding the Freeze-thaw Cycle

Freezing cycles followed by thawing cycles throughout the winter season can wreak havoc on your chimney.  The damage caused by this cycle can affect your home in much of the same way that potholes ruin asphalt. When temperatures begin to drop, water penetrates the porous surfaces of your chimney. Once contained inside, the water freezes and expands. As a result, your masonry can crack and crumble.

Left unrepaired, these cracks can lead to greater, more costly damage to your chimney and home. Water can penetrate your chimney’s interior or compromise other aspects of your home’s structure.

Our chimney experts advise homeowners to have their chimney inspected at least once a year. It’s best to schedule your inspection during the springtime, because it is easier then to catch damage before extensive repairs are needed.

How to tell if my Chimney has Damage

When freeze-thaw cycles are occurring, you should keep an eye out for signs of possible damage. If you notice any of the following issues, your chimney may require repair:

  • Crumbling mortar
  • Loose or spalling bricks
  • Cracked chimney crown
  • Chimney flue tile pieces in the firebox
  • Rusted chimney damper or fireplace grate
  • Water-stained walls or ceiling near the fireplace

Now that you know what to look out for, let’s explore the most common types of chimney damage related to moisture:

Flashing Damage

Your chimney’s flashing creates a watertight seal between the chimney and the roof. This important piece of metal isn’t very durable and should be checked regularly. Winter moisture could cause rusting, and even a tiny hole in the piece is enough to cause major damage to your home.

Deteriorating Mortar

Mortar on masonry chimneys doesn’t last nearly as long as the brick or stone. Over time moisture can wear away mortar and cause it to crumble and deteriorate.


If you notice bits of broken brick around the chimney or on the ground below, this is a sign that moisture has entered the masonry and is causing it to flake. Freeze-thaw cycles are a common cause of spalling.

Chimney Liner

Moisture can completely destroy your chimney liners. When the moisture mixes with creosote and soot deposits, deterioration of the liner occurs rapidly. A damaged liner leaves your home vulnerable to destructive chimney fires.


White, green, brown or yellow stains are evidence of moisture in your chimney masonry.

Chimney Crown

The chimney crown at the top of the chimney is susceptible to damage caused by freezing temperatures. If the crown cracks, moisture can leak in between the flue and the chimney structure, leading to costly damage.

Unwelcome Little Critters

During the cold winter months, it’s not uncommon for animals to seek warmth inside a chimney. Sometimes, they aren’t able to make their way back out, which could unfortunately result in a dead animal (and a terrible smell) trapped in that space. This is especially concerning since wild animals may carry diseases, causing a threat to you and your family. Installing a chimney cap with mesh can prevent this type of problem from occurring.

If you notice any of these signs of damage, please don’t hesitate to contact Brick + Ember Outfitters. We will repair your chimney as quickly as possible, so that you can get back to enjoying your home.

How to Prevent Damage

There are some preventative measures you can take to avoid damage and protect your chimney from winter weather and water penetration. A functioning chimney cap prevents water from entering your chimney flue. Your chimney’s crown deflects water away from the exterior masonry of your chimney. Waterproofing your masonry chimney can help to further safeguard your home against water penetration.

If you are concerned about cold weather damage to your chimney, contact our masonry contractors at 317-500-1250 for a free inspection. We will help keep your chimney and your home in perfect health. You can feel at peace knowing that we offer excellent service at prices that won’t break the bank.