Having biological growths (i.e., lichens, moss, algae and/or fungi) present on brick and stone work is usually an indication that there is excess moisture in or around the surface. These growths can and should be removed immediately, as they attract additional moisture to these surfaces and encourage it to remain there, which can lead to even more serious problems for you down the road.  Lichens and mosses in particular produce certain compounds, which can damage and/or discolor the surfaces as well.

Algae grows because of excess moisture. Moss growing on Chimney

Algae grows because of excess moisture. It isn’t pretty and can cause more serious issues.

Dangers of Leaving Biological Growths Untreated  The biggest danger of these growths on hard surfaces, especially those that are in high-traffic areas, is that they can tend to become slippery. Masonry Paths and steps covered in these biological growths are hazardous. Winter is traditionally the time when the growths are most significant, but build-up can occur during any wet period or in shady, humid areas.

Removing Biological Growths from your Stone and Brickwork  Remove as much of the growth from your brick and stonework as possible using a knife blade and/or stiff-bristled brush before rinsing the surface to remove most of the plant material. If the surface is sound, use low to medium water pressure; if the surface is softer, use standard water pressure from the spigot. Allow the water to soak the remaining plant growth for at least 30 minutes before gently scrubbing the surface again with a stiff-bristled brush.  Thoroughly rinse the surface again with clean, clear water at low pressure from your garden hose.

Moss growing on masonry chimney

Masonry can only stand up to water for so long before it begins to deteriorate.

Preventing Future Biological Growths   Biological growths can wreak havoc on the porous surface of bricks, as well as the crevasses between both brick and stonework. Their mere presence is a sign of water in your chimney, something that will need to be inspected by a licensed chimney inspection professional, as it is vital to the life of your brick and stonework to determine how the water is getting in. Keeping it from growing on your surfaces requires creating an environment that is inhospitable to its growth via physical, cultural and chemical means. You’ll first need to trim back tree branches and foliage that hang over the stone and brickwork to reduce shade.  Removing organic matter—leaves and grass clippings—from the general area regularly will also help to improve sun exposure and decrease moisture retention. During a chimney sweep appointment with American Chimney we will notify you if we see a problem with too much moss on your chimney. 

Understanding how to properly remove biological growths and keep them from coming back will help you keep your masonry and stone surfaces in tip-top condition for many years to come.  If you are experiencing any of these problems in and/or around your home, our certified Portland chimney repair professionals are knowledgeable and qualified to help you identify and remedy the problem. Once we have inspected your brick and stonework and understand the source(s) of your problem, we will provide you with a plan of attack to return the affected areas back to their original state.

Portland Chimney Repair – Service Area

Located right here in Oregon, our Portland chimney sweep technicians provide the best in chimney repair, fireplace installation and dryer vent care in the Greater Portland-Metro area. From NE Portland down to SE Portland, Tualatin and Oregon City in the south, from Pleasant Valley in the east to Beaverton and Sherwood in the west – when it comes to your chimney, fireplace and vents, we hope you’ll call American Chimney & Masonry! We are the most trusted Portland Chimney Repair company!

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To schedule an appointment with one of our expert chimney repair technicians, please call 503-644-0393. With over 19,000 satisfied customers since 1989, we are ready for more! We look forward to visiting with you soon about your fireplace and chimney sweep needs.

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