Masonry chimneys are an important feature of many homes, but they can also be prone to damage and deterioration over time. Repairing a masonry chimney can be a complex and labor-intensive process, but it is essential for maintaining the safety and functionality of the fireplace and chimney.
One common issue with masonry chimneys is the need to replace bricks that have become damaged or deteriorated. This can be due to age, weathering, or other factors. To replace the bricks, the damaged bricks must first be removed and the area prepared for the new bricks. This often involves using a saw that is hooked up to water, and then using a chisel and hammer to chip away at the mortar around the damaged bricks to create a clean surface for the new bricks to be placed. The new bricks should match the size, shape, and color of the existing bricks as closely as possible.
Another common issue with masonry chimneys is the need to repoint the mortar. Over time, the mortar in the joints between the bricks can become weakened or eroded, which can lead to cracks and other problems. To repair the joints, the damaged mortar is chipped away and new mortar is applied in its place. This process is known as tuck-pointing.
In addition to replacing bricks and repointing the mortar, it may also be necessary to replace the concrete crown on top of the chimney. The concrete crown serves to protect the top of the chimney and keep water out. New building codes often require that the concrete crown be at least 5 inches thick and have a minimum of 2 inches of overhang to help prevent water from running down the sides of the chimney. It is also recommended that the crown have a break or expansion joint between the chimney and the crown to allow for movement due to expansion and contraction.
Another important aspect of masonry chimney repair is the need to wrap the flue tiles in compression foam. The flue tiles help to protect the interior of the chimney and keep the flue gases contained. Over time, the flue tiles can become damaged or deteriorated due to the heat and moisture that they are exposed to. Wrapping the flue tiles in compression foam helps to keep a space between the flue tile and concrete crown, so that they do not rub against each other. This can help to prevent damage from friction and extend the life of the chimney.
In conclusion, masonry chimney repair can be a complex and labor-intensive process, but it is essential for maintaining the safety and functionality of the chimney. Repairs include replacing damaged bricks, repointing the mortar and replacing the concrete crown. Hiring a professional to inspect and service your chimney yearly can help prevent expensive major repairs or worst complete replacement.