stone fireplace
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stone fireplace (by Lisa [MD]) Jun 15, 2019 10:08 PM
       stone fireplace (by Steve [MA]) Jun 16, 2019 8:05 AM
       stone fireplace (by Lisa [MD]) Jun 16, 2019 9:07 AM
       stone fireplace (by JKJ [MA]) Jun 16, 2019 10:06 AM
       stone fireplace (by fred [CA]) Jun 17, 2019 9:08 AM
       stone fireplace (by AllyM [NJ]) Jun 17, 2019 9:31 AM

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stone fireplace (by Lisa [MD]) Posted on: Jun 15, 2019 10:08 PM

We have a rental with a stone fireplace. The house is 30 years old and we have noticed the stone itself (not the mortar) is starting to crumble. At first, it appears to be dusty but on further inspection its starting to crumble with a soft, dry, almost chalky texture.

I wondering how to address this and whether the stone should have a sealant or other treatment. It's becoming messy even after vacuuming the dust, if touched, it begins to show the deterioration.


stone fireplace (by Steve [MA]) Posted on: Jun 16, 2019 8:05 AM

Are these stones round & smooth like field stone, jagged like blasted rock, cut like sandstone / soap stone / limestone / slate or some kind of man made composite?

Is the rock just experiencing some kind of surface problem or is it actually becoming structurally unstable?

Could you post a picture of it?

Does the fireplace have a metal or brick lined fire box or is that also made of the same stone?

Does the chimney have a clay flue liner?

Does the chimney contain just one flue for the fireplace or are there other flues for the heating system & water


Is this a new problem or has it been going on for years?

If it's truly just a surface issue you could try gently washing it, letting it dry & spraying on a few coat of masonry sealer. This might prevent dust issues. However if the rock is flaking off, it's most likely a structural problem & may have to be removed.


stone fireplace (by Lisa [MD]) Posted on: Jun 16, 2019 9:07 AM

Honestly, I don't know what kind of stone this is. It's jagged not smooth. The rock seems chalky on the surface and will crumble if we try to brush off the dust with any pressure. However, the mortar seems stable.

Overall, I think the fireplace appears stable but it's not used often bc I require the tenants to have it professionally cleaned if they do. We would need an inspection to learn anything about the interior.

I have a piece that flaked off so I'm thinking of taking it to a stone yard so I can determine what kind of stone it is.

I first noticed the dusty fireplace a couple of years ago but didn't give it much thought as we vacuum the property and keep going. I have a brick fireplace at my home and it appears to be near indestructible. I had no idea a fireplace would be a problem like this.


stone fireplace (by JKJ [MA]) Posted on: Jun 16, 2019 10:06 AM

It almost sounds like what your describing is efflorescence. Efflorescences is leaching of soluble salts in the stone, brick, mortar, etc etc. This is the result of moisture intrusion. It leaves a powder ranging in color from white to yellowish brown and sometimes you’ll see deterioration of the material itself. Check and make sure the roof and chimney flashing are not leaking. As Steve said, this is just speculation without actually seeing it and knowing what type of material it is. The other thing Im thinking is, could it possibly be a man made product that resembles stone?

stone fireplace (by fred [CA]) Posted on: Jun 17, 2019 9:08 AM

Call a fireplace mason and get your answers.

stone fireplace (by AllyM [NJ]) Posted on: Jun 17, 2019 9:31 AM

I'm thinking that it is some kind of fake stone since it's only 30 years old but inflorescence could also be as JKJ said. If it's limestone then that would be the answer. You need a geologist maybe and I don't know how you find those except at a university. So maybe an old timer chimney guy would recognize the stone. Dolomite maybe.

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